CANBERRA – In the most polarizing, toxic election in India’s history, the voter turnout of 67.1 percent (604 million) was the highest ever. Fierce social media wars contributed to the nastiness. It is hard to say whether political discourse was coarsened more by Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his opponents.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has scored a second sweeping landslide, winning 303 seats, up from 282; the tally for the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition increased from 336 to 350. The BJP held its own with slightly reduced majorities in the heartland states of central and western India, failed to make significant inroads in the south and succeeded in gaining new footholds in the non-Hindi speaking east. The Indian National Congress party betrayed a shocking lack of vision, strategy and ground-level strength, refusing to refresh its leadership, organization and policy agenda. Its increased strength from 44 seats to 52 was inconsequential.
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