An Analysis of the 2024 Indian Elections

The 2024 Indian elections have sparked widespread discussions and reflections on the nature of democracy and secularism in India. The election results are seen as a manifestation of the wisdom and prudence of the Indian electorate, demonstrating their ability to make enlightened choices despite challenges. This electoral exercise, involving 543 constituencies over several weeks, has culminated in a new government, highlighting the continuity and resilience of Indian democracy. The Indian voters showed their enlightenment, making clear and decisive choices despite the difficulties they faced. This demonstrates their commitment to democratic values and their rejection of authoritarianism.

If we aim to solidify democracy as a robust system, it’s crucial to draw lessons from India’s Election Commission. The Commission’s ability to exercise its powers independently and uphold the integrity of the electoral process is commendable. Unlike many other countries, including Pakistan, where election results are often disputed and manipulated, the Indian Election Commission has maintained a high standard of impartiality and fairness. This non-interference from authority and the respect for the electorate’s decision are pivotal for the continuation of democracy. It is essential for other nations, particularly those striving to strengthen their democratic frameworks, to learn from India’s example. Respecting the opinion of the people and ensuring the supremacy of Parliament are fundamental to achieving a truly democratic system.

In the 2024 elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured 240 seats, falling short of a simple majority (272 seats). Despite this, BJP, along with its allies, is set to form a central government. The dream of securing over 400 seats to amend the constitution and alter minority quotas in jobs has been thwarted. Additionally, the attempts to leverage religious sentiments, such as the plan to demolish a mosque and construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya, failed to sway the voters’ hearts. This outcome signifies a setback for the party’s more extreme ambitions and indicates a more balanced political scenario. It reflects the electorate’s desire for a government that respects the secular fabric of the nation and addresses the needs of all its citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations.

Professor Akhtar Al Wasi of Jamia Millia Delhi articulated that the elections are a celebration of democracy, with approximately 66 percent voter turnout. He emphasized that the 2024 elections have fortified secularism more than the 2014 and 2019 elections. Non-Muslim voters played a crucial role in countering Modi’s policies perceived as attacks on the rights of Muslims and minorities. This broad-based support for secularism suggests that the majority of Indians value inclusivity and religious harmony over divisive politics. Congress, with a more strategic campaign, improved its performance, winning 99 seats compared to 50 in the previous elections. This marks a significant presence of the opposition in Parliament, enhancing democratic discourse and ensuring that the government is held accountable. For the first time in years, the opposition has a substantial voice, which is essential for a healthy democracy.

Muslim voters demonstrated prudence and strategy, resulting in 26 Muslim representatives in the Lok Sabha from various parties and regions. This diversity in representation signifies a more inclusive approach to governance. It shows that Muslims in India are no longer just passive observers but active participants in the democratic process. They have used their votes wisely to ensure that their voices are heard, and their rights are protected. The BJP’s losses in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan underscore the shifting political landscape, influenced by leaders like Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu, who emphasized the protection of minorities based on democratic principles. This shift indicates a growing recognition of the importance of minority rights and the need for policies that promote equality and justice.

Senior journalist Karen Sahni highlighted that the 2024 elections have steered Indian politics back towards federalism. The significant difference between BJP’s votes and the opposition’s votes reflects a rejection of BJP’s authoritarian governance. This shift towards federalism means that regional parties and local issues will gain more prominence, leading to a more decentralized and participatory form of governance. Additionally, 80% of poor Indians expressed a preference for governance based on welfare state principles, urging Modi to reconsider his foreign policy, especially towards neighboring countries. The desire for a welfare state reflects the electorate’s demand for policies that address poverty, inequality, and social justice.

India’s foreign policy, particularly towards Pakistan, remains a critical area for reflection. With historical understandings between Modi and Nawaz Sharif and India’s substantial financial aid to Sri Lanka, a potential shift in relations with Pakistan could be beneficial. Open debates in Pakistan’s Parliament regarding Indian election results and future policies towards India are crucial. Universities in Pakistan should also engage in discussions on regional political and economic dynamics, involving Afghanistan, India, and Iran, to foster comprehensive policy formulation. It is important for Pakistan to formulate an ‘India Policy’ that is inclusive and well-thought-out, involving all stakeholders and not driven by any single institution or individual.

In conclusion, the 2024 Indian elections symbolize a victory for secularism and a testament to the electorate’s commitment to democratic values. While BJP remains a significant force, the strengthened opposition and diverse representation underscore a balanced political environment. The evolving political landscape calls for introspection and strategic policy formulation, both within India and in its relations with neighboring countries, to ensure a harmonious and prosperous future. The lessons from these elections are clear: democracy thrives on inclusivity, respect for diversity, and the active participation of all citizens in the political process.

Dr Hamza Khan
Dr Hamza Khan
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