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Left rejected, right put in fetters by Indian voters – World

Critics believe Modi punished for “misusing” religion while poor showing has BJP in a bad mood; Maharashtra’s deputy CM resigns.

• Critics believe PM punished for ‘misusing’ religion
• CPI-M fails to grab a single seat from W. Bengal, again
• Poor showing has BJP in a bad mood; Maharashtra’s deputy CM resigns
• Modi likely to take oath on 9th

NEW DELHI: As the wooing of independent MPs from a pool of 17 intensified on Thursday to boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fragile coalition ahead of his likely swearing-in on Sunday, a cursory survey of the poll results revealed the voters’ rejection of the left while putting fetters on the right.

The CPI-M couldn’t win a seat for the second consecutive time in West Bengal although it produced a ray of hope in BJP-ruled Rajasthan by getting a seat there.

In Kerala, where it runs a state government, its tally of MPs dropped to just one, embarrassingly the same as the first-time BJP winner from the state’s Thrissur constituency. Even the Indian Union Muslim League got two, one more than the communists, while the Congress took the day with 14.

Anxiety over the decimation of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is expected to be the main issue when the CPI-M meets in the state capital in mid-June. The Hindu quoted LDF insiders as not being entirely optimistic about the ruling front’s prospects in the local body elections in 2025 and beyond.

Their concerns add weight to the potential challenges the LDF may face, including in the Assembly by-lections for the seats vacated by a Congress and a CPI-M MLA who has been elected to the Lok Sabha. The Congress-led United Democratic Front’s (UDF) domination in 110 Assembly constituencies and BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s leads in 11 has unsettled the LDF, The Hindu said.

While the BJP is breathing better in Kerala and a clutch of states where it has formed governments this week, its centre looks out of joint. On the face of it, it looks cheerful though.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to attend Mr Modi’s oath ceremony, and top leaders of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and Mauritius are also likely to be present.

But there were reports of strained relations within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose MPs were required to formally elect Mr Modi as their leader before he could secure the support, which he did, of the National Democratic Alliance members. The deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis resigned on Wednesday claiming responsibility for the debacle in the state.

But this was being seen as a ploy to force Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to also accept responsibility for the poor show in his state where the BJP suffered the heaviest losses. Mr Adityanath is said to be locked in a running turf war with Home Minister Amit Shah. It is widely claimed that upper caste Thakurs of his ilk didn’t show any enthusiasm for the BJP candidates this time around.

Mr Adityanath would be hoping that the two critical secular allies critical for Mr Modi’s survival would not allow Mr Shah to remain home minister.

Members of Samajwadi Party (SP) sit inside their party office, a day after India’s general election results, in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India on June 5, 2024. — Reuters

The accusations over the UP setback have been flying thick and fast, possibly contributing to Mr Modi’s rush to secure the NDA’s support even before the party MPs met.

In a terse message to Hindutva supporters, and against the communal speeches made by Mr Modi, the voters upset the rightwing campaign with the only way they know. They elected a secular MP from the constituency in Rajasthan where Mr Modi had called Muslims infiltrators and thieves. Apparently, a legal case is being framed too over the abusive speeches.

Even more telling in this vein was the victory of the opposition in Ayodhya from where Mr Modi launched his election campaign by hurriedly inaugurating a half-built temple to Lord Ram. To make it worse for Mr Modi, the BJP was routed in all the districts abutting on Ayodhya, prompting his critics to claim that he was being punished for misusing Ram’s name.

Two BJP leaders Mr Modi is said to be wary of are seen as potential challengers for his job. They are cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who won by a landslide of over 800,000 votes.

To rub home the point for Hindutva, the only leader to upstage him in a face-to-face contest was a Muslim candidate for the Congress from Assam who won with a lead of 11,00,000 votes. The wooing of independent voters, meanwhile, had another purpose: to prevent them from swelling the opposition’s numbers.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2024

Header image: Hindu devotees wait to enter the Hindu god Lord Ram temple for prayers, in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India on June 6, 2024. — Reuters

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