Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party claimed an unmistakable mandate in India’s parliamentary elections. The BJP increased its seats to win a single-party majority in two consecutive elections, while the Indian National Congress virtually imploded in this ballot. Modi’s image as a clean politician and his promotion of a strong, vigorous and assertive India won over voters who some months ago were thought to be having doubts about his leadership. Now he must recommit to reform to ensure the economic base that is the foundation of his, and his nation’s, ambitions.
Indian elections are a breathtaking exercise in democracy. The world’s largest democracy has a population of 1.3 billion people, 900 million of whom are eligible voters who visit 1 million polling sites over five weeks to decide 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament. This year turnout topped 67 percent, up about 1 percentage point from the last ballot in 2014. In that vote, the BJP won 282 seats; when combined with those of its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Modi presided over a comfortable majority of 342 seats. He rode to power atop a wave of disaffection with the then-ruling Indian National Congress party, and pledged to unleash the struggling Indian economy and create millions of jobs.
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