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OpinionsModi’s NDA Govt starts third term, reined in by coalition politics

Modi’s NDA Govt starts third term, reined in by coalition politics


Now, Modi in embrace of uncertain Naidu, unreliable Nitish

By Kalyani Shankar

The NDA coalition government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just taken office, and it's too early to predict how it will perform, even whether it will run its five-year term. It is common knowledge that has a messy history of multi-party governments. Late BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee also ran an alliance of 24 parties from 1998 to 2004. India's experience with coalition governments has been somewhat tumultuous.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a third term, which is a significant personal achievement also. But the BJP only got 240 of the required 272 seats to govern independently. Modi now leads a coalition government with the other parties of the Democratic Alliance (NDA). His government's future depends on these allies and Modi is too smart a politician not to understand what the situation requires of him.

The NDA is an alliance of centre-right parties led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party. The allies secured 43 seats in the recent elections, bringing the NDA's total to 283 seats, 11 more than the required number to form the government. This is a new situation for Modi. As a leader who believed in centralizing power, forming a coalition government challenges Modi's authority.

This could significantly alter the course of his political agenda, potentially resulting in a greater emphasis on policies that appeal to the varied coalition partners rather than suit the BJP's agenda alone. The formation of the NDA coalition government could lead to a shift in priorities.

There might be greater emphasis on the coalition's policies and a potential moderation of Modi's religious nationalist agenda. This could have far-reaching implications for India's political and social fabric.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in his third term, is expected to continue his policies on economic reform, national security, and social welfare. Yet, he faces the extra challenge of managing a diverse coalition. Dealing with coalition partners and running the Parliament may be difficult as he faces a more influential and authoritative opposition.

In his third term, Modi faces several challenges. There are questions about the extent of his authority, particularly as the BJP has lost its majority. New political dynamics have emerged, with the party's primary NDA allies now playing pivotal roles in the ruling coalition. The shift can be attributed to various factors, including regional political dynamics.

The first major hurdle was forming the government, which required him to navigate the complexities of coalition . Continuing his assertive and independent political style may take time and effort.

The next step is allocating portfolios that are satisfactory to his allies. Both Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu are tough negotiators and will demand important portfolios. Smaller allies will also assert their influence in shaping the government's policies and decisions by overseeing key ministries.

The main point is to keep the NDA together. Rumours suggest the INDIA coalition wanted to lure the JD(U) and TDP to its fold and form its own government. This move failed, but it could lead to a realignment of political forces, tilting the balance of power within the coalition. Whether Modi's NDA allies will remain loyal or undermine his rule is in the realm of speculation and the “million-dollar question”. The uncertainty rooted in the history of key allies' unreliability needs to be watched.

Some of the BJP's key allies, such as the TDP, Shiv Sena, AIADMK, and Akali Dal, had ended their partnerships in the past decade. In 2018, the TDP left the alliance because Andhra Pradesh didn't receive special category status. Now, the TDP and JD(U) are back with the BJP. Modi will have to take care not to alienate Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United).

Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar, with 28 seats between them, are the “kingmakers.” They have long advocated for special status for their respective states and are known for their slippery character.

Nitish Kumar, known as ‘Paltu Kumar' for his frequent flip-flops, ended his partnership with the BJP in 2014 over the issue of the BJP declaring Modi the prime ministerial candidate. He later joined the NDA and again broke with the BJP in 2022 to form the government with the RJD. This year, he again returned to the NDA fold.

Due to coalition politics and a weakened mandate, passing laws for the government's ambitious reform plans may take time and effort. Despite not having a majority, the opposition will have enough members in the parliamentary committees to prevent the passing of controversial bills. This means that Modi's ability to push the BJP's agenda forward will be challenged. Important policies such as the ‘Uniform Civil Code' and ‘One Nation, One Election' could be delayed, potentially slowing down policy-making and leading to a rethinking on the government's reform chart.

Changes in political alliances wouldn't be surprising. Modi may focus on changing his minority government into a majority over the next two or three years. But, initially, it will be a tightrope walk to balance power.



The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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