From a chaiwala who served tea to those traveling through the Vadnagar train station in the Northwestern Indian state of Gujarat to the Prime Minister of the world’s most populated country, Narendra Modi has had quite the run with building up a solid portfolio (while some parts of said portfolio remain questionable). However, like all things in life, this too might soon be coming to an end.
On July 18, multiple Indian opposition parties officially formed an alliance called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or INDIA to challenge Prime Minister Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in parliamentary elections next year. The alliance of 26 political parties declared in a statement after their first two-day meeting in Bangalore that the BJP, under the leadership of PM Modi, was “assaulting the character of the republic” and the INDIA alliance would “safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution”.
However, given that the BJP which adheres to Hindutva-based policies or right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology, has been in governmental power since 2014 and has been the leading party of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) coalition, now holding 301 of the 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, or lower house, of India’s Parliament while the parties that make up the INDIA alliance have under half of that at a mere 141 seats, many are wondering whether this new alliance will truly be able to take down the political juggernaut Modi and his loyal BJP followers have become.
This question especially arises when considering the fact that India is in the midst of innumerable challenges concerning all facets of society, from climate change-induced floods causing hundreds of deaths and millions of dollars in damages (even getting awfully close to drowning the oh-so-famous Taj Mahal) to human rights abuses due to caste-based conflicts to the ultimate demise of democracy in the hands of near-authoritarian rule at the expense of personal rights through limiting the freedom of the press and banning political opponents from office.
When India is in the midst of political, economic, and social instability under the Modi administration alongside their BJP, it is important to understand how essential it is for these political parties of INDIA to oust the BJP-led NDA in the 2024 general election.
Rarely before has a revolution of this magnitude taken place in Indian politics, with many experts dating the previous one to the Indian revolt against British colonial rule in the late 1940s. The flames for this revolution to take place were further fueled when Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Indian Parliament for 19 years and top opposition leader for the Indian National Congress or INC (the leading party of the INDIA Alliance), was expelled from Parliament and barred from running in the upcoming election by the BJP for claims of defamation before the Indian Supreme Court finally drew the line and deemed this action to be unconstitutional.
Gandhi, a member of the politically famous Nehru-Gandhi family, argued that the INDIA alliance was created to “defend the idea of India” and “defend the voice of the Indian people”. His colleague and the president of the INC party, Mallikarjun Kharge, said that the alliance looks to organize a coordination panel at their next meeting, as well as select an official leader to ideate solutions for their main goal, winning the majority of seats in their Parliament.
The movement against Prime Minister Modi was further fueled recently when, on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government with “credible allegations” collected by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of being involved in the killing of a 45-year-old Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Surrey, Vancouver. Nijjar, a Canadian citizen born in India, was involved with a Sikh-led separatist movement in India to create a new country, Khalistan, including parts of India’s Punjab state. These actions have led to India officially declaring him to be a wanted terrorist.
Although Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters that Canada is “not looking to provoke or escalate” the situation, the confrontation escalated very quickly between the two countries with Canada expelling a top Indian diplomat working in Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and India’s same office responding with the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat on Tuesday, calling the accusations “absurd”. The Canadian parliament is also expected to take further action on the issue, looking to their allies from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance for support. Prime Minister Trudeau has also warned India to “take this matter with the utmost seriousness.”
As one would expect, the BJP is extremely unhappy with the INDIA alliance’s plan to say the least. After hearing about their formation, Prime Minister Modi said that political alliances “built on negativity” never succeeded, right before listing achievements of his National Democratic Alliance. The BJP also convened the NDA to revive their alliance in response to INDIA’s rise to fame. Modi continued his statement at the NDA meeting in regard to the strong opposition, saying “We unite the people of India, they divide the people of India, they underestimate the ordinary people of India.”
Modi is seeking reelection for a third consecutive term next year when India’s global diplomacy is rising, but alongside a struggling economy suffering from high unemployment, cross-cultural quarrels between Hindu nationalists and minorities like Muslims, women, and those in scheduled castes, and an increasingly authoritative limit on free speech and press. This is exactly where the INDIA alliance comes in, to point out the flaws and (numerous) shortcomings of the modern-day, ultra-religious BJP and successfully overtake the Modi administration in the 2024 general election. Political scientist Suhas Palshikar emphasizes this point when he says, “The opposition must pitch this alliance as an alliance for the ordinary people and not just a front against Modi and his party. They must offer a realistic policy narrative and vision for the country that will resonate with the voters.”
Of course, it will be no easy task considering that Modi is consistently polling as India’s most popular leader with his party directly controlling nearly half of India’s 28 states and the entire NDA coalition holding a strong majority in Parliament. INDIA, however, has proven that despite the regional and, in some cases, political differences between the 26 parties that make up their alliance, they are still able to come together in an organized fashion, coalesce into a strong opposition contender, and effectively take on Modi’s modern-day BJP.
Hello! My name is Krishna Mano and I am a sophomore at City High School. This is my fourth year writing for The City Voice and second year as an editor. Apart from the newspaper, I am part of the Speech and Debate team, President of the 10th Grade Student Council, and Treasurer of the NHS. Outside of school, I enjoy playing the violin, reading, skiing, and paddleboarding. If you have any questions about my articles, please contact me at email@example.com.