Thought August 07, 2023 / 12:04 pm UTC

India's Upcoming Elections: The INDIA Coalition Denting Modi-wave

By Sanya Suri

As the countdown begins for the national elections in 2024 (expected between April and May), the political landscape in India is shaping up for a fierce battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a newly formed opposition coalition called INDIA (Indian National Democratic Alliance). With just six months left until the polls, the stage is set for a high-stakes showdown that will determine the future direction of the country's governance. Prime minister, Narendra Modi still appears to be in the lead for another emphatic victory. However, the latest alliance could dent its majority, which may make passing legislation in the next term, slightly challenging.

INDIA Alliance to Pose Moderate Threat

The BJP, under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi, is flexing its political muscles in an attempt to secure another term in office. On the other side of the political spectrum, the opposition forces have rallied together, as they attempt to overcome ideological differences to form a united front against the BJP's dominance. This coalition, known as INDIA, comprises 26 parties, both national and regional, with a common goal: to unseat prime minister Modi and his party. The central theme of this election is the BJP's continued rule in power and the opposition's determination to curb its influence. 

While specific strategies are yet to be fully revealed, there is a general consensus among the opposition parties that defeating the BJP requires a state-wise approach focusing on selecting strong candidates. This acknowledgment forms the backbone of INDIA's strategy, as it seeks to challenge the BJP's dominance on a regional level. This strategy comes in the aftermath of the BJP losing the recent state election in Karnataka, one of India’s economically leading regions and contributing a large number of seats to the parliament. 

Opinion Polls Suggest Modi-wave

However, recent opinion polls conducted in key states have cast doubt on the opposition's aspirations. Recent surveys conducted by leading media houses shed light on potential outcomes in several critical states, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. These states hold immense significance in the upcoming election and could play a pivotal role in shaping the final results.

According to these surveys, the BJP appears to be in a strong position across several states. In Maharashtra, the party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win between 22-28 seats out of the 48 parliamentary seats. Similarly, Rajasthan is expected to witness a significant victory for the NDA, securing around 20-22 seats out of 25. In Bihar, where chief minister, Nitish Kumar played a crucial role in forming the opposition coalition, the NDA could emerge victorious with 22-24 seats out of the 40 seats. Madhya Pradesh, a state with upcoming state elections, could also contribute to the BJP's success with an estimated 22-24 seats out of 29. Even in West Bengal, where chief minister, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress holds sway, the BJP has been attempting to ever so slowly yet strategically make in-roads. Opinion polls suggest that the BJP is projected to make significant gains in 2024, winning 18-20 seats compared to the ruling regional party's 20-22. West Bengal contributes 42 seats to the national parliament. 

Overall, according to the opinion polls, the BJP-led NDA is likely to secure over 300 seats out of a total 543 ensuring a clear majority. However, the BJP alone, on its own, may see a slight fall from its current 303 seats to 280-290 seats. 

BJP Remains Focused

While the opposition's confidence stems from the belief that the BJP has reached its peak in certain states, the situation on the ground indicates that both Mr. Modi’s and the BJP’s popularity remains formidable. In the 2019 national elections, the BJP achieved remarkable victories in states like Madhya Pradesh , Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. The party's ability to retain or build upon these gains will play a crucial role in determining the election outcome. A clincher would be the BJP securing the seats projected by these polls in the state of Uttar Pradesh (i.e. 73 out of 80 seats). As a consequence, the BJP is not taking the opposition lightly. The BJP is going into each of the up-coming state elections with full steam; any losses on this front will dent its cadre’s morale and overall popularity, but also provide a flip to INDIA’s prospects. The opposition alliance will then attempt to drive a narrative of BJP losing support in the national elections.

As the battle lines are drawn and the clock ticks closer to election day, the political landscape in India remains dynamic and unpredictable. The formation of the INDIA coalition signifies a united effort to challenge the BJP's dominance, while the ruling party aims to maintain its strong electoral position. For now though, BJP remains in the lead, which is in some way is a positive for policy continuity over the next five years and supportive of investor sentiment, at a time when India remains a key market with great prospects, amid slowing developed economies. 

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Analyst Declaration
I, Sanya Suri, the lead analyst declare that the views expressed herein are mine and are clear, fair and not misleading at the time of publication. They have not been influenced by any relationship, either a personal relationship of mine or a relationship of the firm, to any entity described or referred to herein nor to any client of Continuum Economics nor has any inducement been received in relation to those views. I further declare that in the preparation and publication of this report I have at all times followed all relevant Continuum Economics compliance protocols including those reasonably seeking to prevent the receipt or misuse of material non-public information.