June 12, 2024


Is the INDIA alliance now a formidable opposition?

(Image credit: Mallikarjun Kharge’s X post)

“The exit polls got it wrong!” “Is Modi’s magic fading?” These were just some of the takeaways from the 2024 election results. On the other side of the equation is the INDIA alliance. To be sure, the results were a mixed bag for all involved. But there’s more hope for a spirited opposition than there has ever been in the past decade with the BJP’s single-party dominance.

While the BJP remains the single-largest party in the country, the INDIA alliance seems to have shown some fight this election. It’s a surprise, particularly since most analysts and pundits had all but written off any hopes of the alliance taking the fight to the BJP. With the results now there for everyone to see, will the INDIA alliance now be a formidable opposition going forward?


The INDIA alliance isn’t a grand old alliance. It’s barely a year old. Over two dozen opposition parties decided to join forces to take on the BJP. The thesis was simple – “safeguard the idea of India as enshrined in the Constitution”. The focus would be on inflation and unemployment. The acronym was purposeful – Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.

When the alliance was formed almost a year ago, it was made up of regional rivals splintered at the national level. They accounted for less than half of the 301 seats BJP had in the 542-member lower house.

The seeds of this alliance were perhaps sown in the wake of Rahul Gandhi’s conviction for defamation and shock disqualification. 14 parties jointly petitioned the Supreme Court, stating that the government was using investigative agencies to target the opposition and its leaders. Things seemed to gather pace when Mamata Banerjee said there needed to be a united opposition to take on the BJP. That was a shift from the stance of her party, the TMC, of contesting alone.

In the months ahead, the alliance had its share of stumbles and internal strife, as is common in a group of regional parties with diverse interests. When the assembly election results showed the BJP emerging as the clear winner in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, the alliance didn’t fracture even as seat-sharing disagreements came to the fore.

As the 2024 election drew closer, the BJP seemed to grow from strength to strength. They had the money, the machinery, and the widespread electoral infrastructure on their side. The TV coverage consisted of figuring out by how many seats the BJP would win a majority.

When counting day came, it wasn’t the script most people expected. The BJP didn’t win a majority and had to rely on its alliance partners to form a government. It was a drastic change from the past decade. Another drastic change was the INDIA alliance’s performance – far better than expected. The question now is, can they be considered a formidable opposition?

VIEW: They’ve got what it takes

What many analysts have claimed since the results were announced could work in the alliance’s favour – there’s a bit of Modi fatigue in India. The results were seen by many as a clear rejection of the BJP’s divisive Hindutva politics. That’s part of the base upon which the alliance can build. The results were even more remarkable given the increasingly hostile environment created by the Modi government – using investigative agencies to intimidate and arrest opposition leaders.

The alliance has openings in the Hindi belt. The results in Uttar Pradesh were a shock, to say the least. A massive gesture toward Hindus with the Ram Temple in Ayodhya paid no dividends. This perhaps gives the alliance a chance to exploit chinks in the Modi-BJP armour. It could also tempt smaller NDA allies to join it in the future if things don’t go as planned.

What makes this a particularly noteworthy moment in Indian politics is the resurgence of the Congress. Seen as down and out, it has nearly doubled its seats from 2019. The party, in many ways the crux of the alliance, has shown it still has a lot of fight left. With Rahul Gandhi as the leader, the alliance has the chance to keep the government in check, and it has shown it can do just that. It’s the perfect base for future electoral battles.

COUNTERVIEW: Hold your horses

It can be argued that the voters didn’t send a message in unison. There’s nothing overtly in favour of the Congress, the INDIA alliance, or against the BJP. Part of this is the narratives and perspective. Calls of “400 paar” didn’t do the BJP any favours, but 240 is still more than double what the Congress got. The Congress celebrating 100 seats shows just how much ground it had to make up and how much further it needs to go. At the end of the day, the numbers make the difference and they’re on the BJP’s side.

A coalition government is a risky proposition. But it would be unwise to bet against the BJP under Modi of pulling it off. One could see a scenario where the party brings more people to its side, then goes for mid-term polls and returns with a majority. The opposition should understand that the issues that affected the BJP weren’t uniform across the country.

Even for the alliance, the parties aren’t exactly on the same page on issues like caste census, quotas, and reservations. There has already been an immediate setback for the alliance, with the AAP announcing it will contest alone for the Delhi Assembly elections. While many have criticised Modi for his communal rhetoric, some analysts, especially within the Muslim community, have pointed out that the opposition has largely avoided raising their concerns.

Reference Links:

  • Assembly election results and the future of the INDIA alliance – India Today
  • ‘Bit of a moment for Rahul Gandhi’: new dawn for India’s opposition, but where to now? – The Guardian
  • INDIA vs BJP: What Modi’s underperformance means for a resurgent opposition alliance – Independent
  • INDIA Bloc changes the game, emerges as strong Opposition against BJP-led NDA – The Economic Times
  • Congress kept its ear and feet to the ground to script a remarkable resurgence – The Week
  • India’s opposition looked down and out – now they’re back – BBC
  • Not Your Victory: Why Congress Should Not Celebrate Lok Sabha Results – News18
  • The LoP Question: Will Rahul Seize the Authority Sonia Fought For? – News18

What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)

a) The INDIA alliance is a formidable opposition.

b) The INDIA alliance is not a formidable opposition.


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