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Lower Turnout Raises Doubts on BJP’s Expected Landslide Victory in India’s General Election

India’s ongoing general election is witnessing a lower turnout, causing concern among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign team. This has raised doubts about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies achieving the landslide victory previously forecasted by opinion polls just a month ago.

Attributed partly to complacency among party workers assuming victory, Modi has altered his campaign rhetoric to energize the Hindu majority, the party’s core supporters, and encourage voter turnout, political analysts noted.

Earlier predictions suggested the BJP and its allies could secure three-fourths of the 543 parliamentary seats due to Modi’s popularity, economic growth, welfare initiatives, and the inauguration of a Hindu temple on a contested site.

In the 2019 election, the BJP secured 303 seats, with allies winning around 50 seats. The party’s slogan for this election, “Ab ki baar, 400 paar” (“This time, above 400”), aimed for a significant increase.

However, a lack of momentum during the initial phases of the seven-phase election has tempered expectations of a massive majority. Despite this, analysts believe the BJP is likely to retain power.

Sanjay Sharma, a member of the BJP’s campaign committee in Haryana, attributed the decrease in voter turnout to apathy among party workers and voters. He acknowledged an anti-incumbency sentiment affecting some candidates and anticipated a tough fight in Haryana.

Modi’s campaign speeches have shifted focus from administrative achievements to targeting minority Muslims and the opposition Congress party, reflecting a strategic pivot to polarize the electorate.

While the voter turnout in the initial phases was slightly lower than in 2019, the BJP had hoped for higher participation to signal strong support. The party now faces challenges in achieving its goal of a two-thirds majority, crucial for enacting constitutional changes.

Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s national spokesman, acknowledged the voting numbers were below expectations but downplayed their impact on the final results, attributing the decline to voter lethargy.

The BJP’s shift in strategy has led to skepticism among some voters, who feel disillusioned with the party’s communalized campaign tactics. Despite this, the BJP remains confident in its prospects.

Opposition parties, buoyed by the shift in Modi’s campaign tone and style, are hopeful of a better performance compared to previous elections.

Political analysts suggest the BJP may be revising its expectations amidst the ongoing campaign, acknowledging a sense of nervousness within the party. However, the balance of probability still favors the BJP, albeit not as strongly as anticipated.

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