India's 2014 Legislative Elections: The Lack of Economic Miracles Lands the Congress Party on the Opposition Benches

27-05-2014

The EU’s relationship with India and the floundering bilateral trade negotiations may be reinvigorated by the results of the country’s elections for India’s lower house of parliament – the Lok Sabha – held between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, came at the expense of the Congress party; after being in power for all but 18 years since the country's independence in 1947, Congress obtained only 44 seats – less than 8 % of the total – in the recent ballot. The new Common People's Party, which performed well in 2013-regional elections in the capital, Delhi, obtained only four seats nationwide. Modi, a Hindu nationalist who led the state of Gujarat, had been shunned by the EU and the US for many years for his part in the 2002 Gujarat riots. But between the recent elections and his investiture, on 26 May 2014, both transatlantic powers made friendly overtures to the new prime minister. Negotiations within the BJP and with potential coalition partners are well underway, and the composition of the new Indian government should be known soon. As Modi’s election campaign focussed on domestic issues, and in particular on the ailing Indian economy, the BJP-led government’s stance on foreign relations – including on cross-border trade and investment and negotiations with the EU on the stalled free trade agreement – will soon crystallise.

The EU’s relationship with India and the floundering bilateral trade negotiations may be reinvigorated by the results of the country’s elections for India’s lower house of parliament – the Lok Sabha – held between 7 April and 12 May 2014. The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader, Narendra Modi, came at the expense of the Congress party; after being in power for all but 18 years since the country's independence in 1947, Congress obtained only 44 seats – less than 8 % of the total – in the recent ballot. The new Common People's Party, which performed well in 2013-regional elections in the capital, Delhi, obtained only four seats nationwide. Modi, a Hindu nationalist who led the state of Gujarat, had been shunned by the EU and the US for many years for his part in the 2002 Gujarat riots. But between the recent elections and his investiture, on 26 May 2014, both transatlantic powers made friendly overtures to the new prime minister. Negotiations within the BJP and with potential coalition partners are well underway, and the composition of the new Indian government should be known soon. As Modi’s election campaign focussed on domestic issues, and in particular on the ailing Indian economy, the BJP-led government’s stance on foreign relations – including on cross-border trade and investment and negotiations with the EU on the stalled free trade agreement – will soon crystallise.