BJP leader Narendra Modi is set for a third term as Prime Minister of India, thus equalling the record of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first PM of independent India. Photo courtesy: X/@BJP4India

Several heads of state from India’s neighbouring countries and others, such as the Italian prime minister and the Maldives president, have congratulated Narendra Modi on his third term as the Prime Minister of India.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition is set to form the government once again, though with reduced numbers in the Lok Sabha, as the opposition INDIA bloc scored many surprise victories in the 2024 general elections.

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni; Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe; Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’; Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay; Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth; and Maldives President Dr Mohamed Muizzu are among those whose congratulatory messages came in earliest, after the India election result announcements went on till late night on June 4.

Narendra Modi is set to remain the Prime Minister of India, even though the BJP tally in the 543-seat Lok Sabha has fallen short of the 272 seats required for getting a majority on its own. Nonetheless, the NDA has the numbers to form the government.

BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and JP Nadda
BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and JP Nadda. Photo courtesy: X/@BJP4India

The opposition INDIA bloc, spearheaded by the Indian National Congress, did much better in the final tally than the exit polls had predicted. One of the remarkable victories for this bloc was the Samajwadi Party snatching 37 seats in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP runs the state government.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi won from two Lok Sabha seats — Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala — with impressive margins of more than 300,000 votes in each seat. He will have to give up any one seat, since a Member of Parliament can keep only one.

As per the final counts early this morning, the BJP on its own had 240 seats and the Congress 99.

The BJP had won 303 and 282 seats in 2019 and 2014, respectively, and is in a relatively weakened position this time.

With support from the BJP’s key allies — N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), which won 16 and 12 seats in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, respectively — and other NDA partners, the alliance bagged about 290 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

The TDP also swept the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, dislodging YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP.

The BJP scored a big upset in the assembly elections in Odisha, driving out the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who had ruled the eastern Indian state for 24 years.

Narendra Modi equals the three-term record of Jawaharlal Nehru

Preparing to take office for a record-equalling historic third term, Modi pledged to work with all states, regardless of the party in power, to build a developed India. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had served three consecutive terms.

In his first speech after the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections came in yesterday, Modi laid out his vision for the third term, saying that it would be a tenure of big decisions and that the key emphasis would be on uprooting corruption.

This is the first time that Modi, 73, will be dependent on allies to remain in the government since he came into politics.

“The fight against corruption is becoming tougher by the day. Corruption is being shamelessly glorified for political interest. In our third term, the NDA will focus a lot on rooting out corruption of all kinds,” said Modi.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge termed the poll outcome as a “victory of the people and that of democracy”.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Priyanka Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi
Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Priyanka Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi. Photo courtesy: X/@RahulGandhi

“We had been saying that this battle is between [the] public and Modi… This mandate is against Modi. This is his political and moral defeat. It is a big defeat for a person who sought votes in his own name. He has suffered a moral setback,” Kharge told reporters at the Congress headquarters, flanked by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi after the good showing by the party.

These elections highlighted the revival of the main opposition Congress party under Rahul Gandhi, and the unexpected role of the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh — under Akhilesh Yadav — as a giant slayer.

The Trinamool Congress, another key party in the opposition alliance, won 29 seats in West Bengal, higher than its 2019 tally of 22. The BJP, which had 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha election, won 12 this time.

In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won 33 seats against its tally of 62 in 2019, and the Samajwadi Party’s numbers went up, largely attributed to three factors: consolidation of Muslim votes in its favour; smart seat-sharing agreements with Congress to avoid splitting of non-BJP votes; and widespread discontent with the BJP government over jobs and price rise. The SP won 37 of the 80 seats at stake.

Modi himself retained the Varanasi seat in Uttar Pradesh, but with a much reduced victory margin of about 153,000 votes. In 2019, the margin was 479,505.

The BJP campaign for the 2024 general elections was marked by an excessive reliance on Modi for getting votes. The prime minister held more than 300 rallies, travelling tirelessly almost every day to multiple locations.