Modi3.0: Running a coalition government a challenge for Modi

Unprecedented challenges await Modi in his third term


June 9, 2024

/ By / New Delhi

Modi3.0: Running a coalition government a challenge for Modi

With the BJP winning  only 240 seats Modi faces the challenge of leading a coalition government

One of the most significant outcomes of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is that the results have put Narendra Modi in an unprecedented situation. Never in his life as the head of a government has he had to deal with a coalition on which his government was dependent. But now, Modi’s survival as Prime Minister for five years, depends entirely upon the whims and fancies of his numerous coalition partners. Some believe that the tight rope walk may prove too much for Modi.

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On June 9 as Narendra Modi prepares to take oath as the Prime Minister of India for a third term, he finds himself in a very unfamiliar position as he will be leading a government that is dependent upon the coalition partners for survival.

In a career spanning almost 25 years, this is the first time that Modi is not heading a government where his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has a clear majority. Thus far, whether as Chief Minister of Gujarat or as Prime Minister of India, Modi has run governments where his party enjoys a comfortable majority and where he has an unchallenged command.

Modi’s swearing-in on Sunday evening will also mark the return of coalition politics to New Delhi after a decade-long hiatus. With ideological disparities among coalition partners, this time the NDA, headed by BJP, there are questions about how smoothly can this government run and whether it will correspond with the ‘strong government’ image that Modi has carefully curated for himself.

With the BJP winning  only 240 seats, Modi faces the challenge of leading a coalition government. The NDA, comprising 14 parties, secured a total of 293 seats, necessitating Modi’s reliance on allies for governance.

It is a first for Modi, but this is not the first time the party will be heading a coalition government. The BJP’s initial foray into coalition politics was in 1996 under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but that government lasted only 13 days, then in 1998 he again returned as prime Minister, he was able to assemble a coalition called the NDA and this coalition government lasted for 13 months then again in 1999, Vajpayee led the NDA coalition to victory in 1999, winning 182 seats and finally this government completed its full term in 2004.

“I recall how ‘coalition dharma’ was a term coined by Vajpayee to underscore the importance of managing coalition politics with respect and cooperation. Now, Modi, his political successor, must embrace this philosophy. After a decade of ruling with a strong majority, we are witnessing the return of coalition politics in India. This shift means Modi will need to navigate the complexities of aligning with allies who do not share the BJP’s ideological narrative. It is a challenging task, but it also promises a healthier democratic process with more debates and opposition voices being heard in Parliament, Modi’s ability to adapt to this new political landscape will be crucial for the stability and effectiveness of his government,” Vishnu Kumar, a retired teacher of history who lives in South Delhi, tells Media India Group.

Kumar is not alone in wondering how the BJP government will manage to run a coalition government given the significant ideological differences between the parties involved. The BJP, with its strong Hindu nationalist stance, differs greatly from the more regionally focused and diverse ideologies of its coalition partners, such as the Telugu Desam Party of Andhra Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) of Bihar. This ideological disparity could lead to challenges in policy-making and governance, as compromises will need to be made to maintain coalition unity.

Aravindhan S

Aravindhan S

“This marks the first time the BJP is heading a coalition government with the Telugu Desam Party of Andhra Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) of Bihar as its main allies. Their confidence is crucial for the stability of the government’s term. I expect to see more contestations in Parliament than in the past 10 years, ensuring that debates and opposition voices are heard more effectively. However, the ideological misalignment between the allies and the BJP will provide essential checks and balances, which are a cornerstone of democracy,” Aravindhan S, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Guru Nanak College in Chennai, tells Media India Group.

“The ideological misalignment between the BJP and its coalition allies ensures essential checks and balances, a cornerstone of democracy. The style of governance in a coalition cabinet, reminiscent of the pre-2014 era led by Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, emphasises the challenges and opportunities inherent in such political arrangements. While coalition politics historically led to complexities, including issues of inflation and corruption, they also paved the way for robust decisions like disinvestment, highlighting the intricate nature of governance in diverse political landscapes,” he adds.

“As we all know the NDA alliance is not ideologically akin to BJP’s narration, we are going to witness a different regime. It is well known that BJP has been in the mood to implement Uniform Civil Code which has already been implemented in Uttarakhand. At the same time BJP has been reluctant to take an unequivocal stand on the caste census. Eventually the persistence of bills has been under question when it comes to coalition government. Hence this is beneficial to all Indians unanimously, the autonomous rule of Modi government may end and will pave the way for renewed ,collective and responsible rule of NDA alliance. Thus the current regime is going to be the rule of the NDA alliance and would not be the same as the past two terms of Modi. This Lok Sabha election 2024 has clearly defined that it is the right time to focus over social upliftment rather than economic development,” he adds.

This transition to a coalition government also raises concerns among the populace about whether the government will effectively address their concerns and prioritise their welfare. People fear a recurrence of the government’s lack of focus on grassroots-level issues, reminiscent of the past decade. The apprehension stems from previous experiences where governance appeared distant and disconnected from the everyday struggles of the common citizen. As power dynamics shift, there is a palpable sense of scepticism about whether the new coalition government will break away from the status quo and truly work for the betterment of all citizens, particularly those at the grassroots level.

“As someone who has been selling vegetables for decades, I had hoped to provide my children with a better future through education, envisioning them securing stable jobs so I could rest in old age. However, for the past four years, they have been unemployed, and I have had to ask them to join me in selling vegetables. No father wishes for his children to endure the hardships he faced. With this election, I held onto hope that change would come, but with the BJP winning again, doubts linger about whether they will truly prioritise employment opportunities and address the struggles of the poor,” Sachin Kumar, a vegetable vendor in Sarita Vihar in South Delhi, tells Media India Group.

Kumar’s poignant account encapsulates the tangible struggles faced by many ordinary citizens, whose aspirations for a brighter future hinge on promises of governmental change. His disillusionment reflects a broader sentiment among marginalised communities, where hopes for improved employment opportunities and poverty alleviation remain unmet. As the BJP secures another term, Kumar’s doubts echo concerns about whether the government will effectively address grassroots-level issues and prioritise the welfare of the underprivileged.

“Modi is going to take oath on June 9. This is going to be a new innings for Modi who has never led a coalition. The immediate experience of coalition of the BJP has been in the state of Maharashtra where the BJP broke up its coalition partner’s parties. Also, there are charges of the government going easy on Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and corruption charges on him. Many other state chief ministers have not had similar luck. So, there is. I past precedent of coalition to rely in. In the future, this country only hopes that issues of the people will be taken up with consensus. And the opposition gets a level playing field,” Manisha  Priyam,  Professor of Education Policy at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration in New Delhi, tells Media India Group.

“Modi  has never run a coalition government. So it seems difficult. Rest only time will tell us,” she adds.

Rakesh Sinha

Rakesh Sinha

Despite the scepticism that abounds regarding the BJP’s ability to navigate the ideological disparities within the coalition, there are voices, like that of BJP Member of Parliament Rakesh Sinha, expressing confidence in Modi’s leadership prowess. Sinha claims that Modi has had unparalleled success in eradicating poverty and fostering grassroots connections.

“People have unequivocally rejected the Nehruvian policies by re-electing Modi as their leader, marking the beginning of the Modi era. He stands out as the most successful leader, having eradicated poverty and established a profound connection with the grassroots. His dedication to uplift the poor is unparalleled, and his clean record without any scams over the past decade speaks volumes. With the BJP leading the alliance smoothly, and with the unwavering support of its coalition partners, we can expect a government that operates seamlessly, free from any obstacles,” Sinha tells Media Group.

While it may be a new experience and an unprecedented challenge for Modi to rule in a coalition, he may yet pull off a full-term if he begins to concede to at least some of the demands of his partners and starts treating them like partners. A new trick, may be. But then power and the urge to stay in power has taught many a leader many a thing



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