It’s been 3 days since Modi won, and we’re already seeing what it’s costing him

In World

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assembles his next government, the calculus clearly differs from his last 10 years in power.

It’s a humbling moment for the BJP, which, in the last two elections, easily achieved a simple majority without the need for its allies.

This year, it fell 32 seats short of the 272 parliamentary seats necessary to win. The rest of its coalition, the National Democratic Alliance, pulled Modi through with another 52 seats, meaning a desertion of several allied parties could turn the tide of the election.

And don’t they know it. Now increasingly dubbed the “kingmakers” by international media, these smaller factions are jockeying for important concessions such as Cabinet positions and special status for their states.

Two major players here are the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United) Party, which hold 16 and 12 seats, respectively. Modi’s alliance would have only achieved 265 seats, seven below the majority mark without them.

Both parties are known to have switched loyalties before and only joined forces with Modi in the months before the 2024 election.

Reuters reported on Thursday, citing two anonymous sources, that the Telugu Desam Party is seeking federal funds to complete irrigation projects in the state of Andhra Pradesh and construction for its capital.

The Guardian’s South Asia correspondent Hannah Ellis-Petersen reported that the party also demands five Cabinet positions and the position of parliamentary speaker.

Meanwhile, the Janata Dal (United) party is asking for three Cabinet seats, per Ellis-Petersen.

That would drastically change Modi’s government’s composition, which had all Cabinet positions filled by BJP members.

Local outlet The New Indian Express reported on Friday that the BJP was already considering dropping some of its previous Cabinet ministers, particularly out of a pool of 19 who lost big in their elections this year.

There are about 50 portfolios to be filled, but ministers often take multiple positions or share responsibilities, meaning a typical Cabinet is just below 30 members.

Still, Ellis-Petersen wrote that the BJP has set boundaries on what can be demanded.

It is said to be refusing to entertain that any key posts in defence, finance, home affairs and external affairs, or indeed transport, highways and railways, would go to anyone other than its own ministers.

Modi has so far secured the assent of his allies, who collectively declared this week that they would form a new government under him.

Yet the haggling for loyalties is new territory for Modi’s leadership, potentially marking a new era in how decisively he can project his vision over the country.

He didn’t have long to negotiate, either. Modi has already tendered his resignation to India’s president and is expected to be sworn in for his third term over the weekend.

The prime minister has campaigned heavily on India’s rising status in the global economy and promised to turn the country into the world’s manufacturing hub. He had boldly projected for the BJP to win 350 seats, with his coalition earning about 400 this year.

With his election victory far less decisive than expected, the Indian stock market posted its worst day in four years.

One of the major concerns from voters has been a surge in joblessness, particularly among young Indian graduates. India’s unemployment rate was 8.1% in April, up from 7.4% in March, per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

Read More: It’s been 3 days since Modi won, and we’re already seeing what it’s costing him

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