July 20, 2024

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Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi claims ‘tectonic shift’ after Modi election upset

2 min read

The Indian political landscape has undergone a “tectonic shift” after this month’s unexpected election result and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will “struggle” to survive, Rahul Gandhi, the country’s most prominent opposition politician, has claimed.

“The space in the Indian political system has been blown open,” Gandhi told the Financial Times in his first interview since the election in which the ruling Bharatiya Janata party lost its majority for the first time since Modi took power in 2014. “A tectonic shift has taken place in Indian politics.”

Modi was sworn in last week, making him India’s first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to win a third successive term. But Indian political analysts have raised questions about the stability of his coalition, which will be the weakest in a decade, forcing the BJP to rely on smaller allied parties to maintain power.

The election result saw the opposition INDIA alliance, led by Gandhi’s Indian National Congress party, perform far better than forecast, winning 234 of 543 seats in India’s lower house to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s 293. It has also thrust Gandhi, who is widely expected to be named opposition leader in the new parliament, back to the centre of Indian politics.

“The numbers are such that they are very fragile, and the smallest disturbance can drop the government,” Gandhi said. “Basically one ally has to turn the other way.”

Gandhi claimed there was “great discontent” within Modi’s camp and that there were “people who are in touch with us” from within it, while declining to give details.

During the campaign, Modi sought to capitalise on religious tensions, referring to India’s large Muslim minority as “infiltrators” and alleging that a Congress-led government would give away employment and other “reservations” set aside for lower-caste Hindus.

Gandhi’s bloc, however, won votes among Dalits by playing on fears the BJP would…

2024-06-18 00:05:50

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