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Modi’s party may need partners to form government

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Early election results on Tuesday suggested Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party may need help from smaller partners to form a government under the rules of India’s parliamentary system.

The 2019 election gave Modi a second term, with his Bharatiya Janata Party winning 303 of the 543 seats in parliament. That was well above the 272 seats the party needed to govern on its own.

This time, exit polls released over the weekend showed the BJP would again easily win more than 272 seats. But as of early Tuesday afternoon, official voting results It said it would win about 240 seats.

Winning such a large majority — 44% of seats in the lower house of parliament — is a remarkable achievement in India or any other country. The new figures should not prevent Mr Modi from securing a third term as prime minister.

But the BJP’s falling electoral support, which is well below Modi’s targets and his performance in the last election, could have political consequences.

At the very least, the BJP will have to rely more on junior members of its existing multiparty coalition, two of whose most prominent parties do not share Modi’s Hindu-first agenda.

If the ruling coalition fails to win a majority of seats, the BJP will be able to form a government only by bringing in new partners.

It may not work out that way. As of Tuesday afternoon, the coalition was on track to win a narrow majority in parliament — still far from its 400-seat goal, but enough to continue governing with its current membership.

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