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Indian Elections and Pakistan’s Security Fluctuations

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Brig (r) Sadiq analyzes various aspects of Indian elections including the possibility of Narendra Modi’s re-election as PM and how it is relevant to and/or will affect the country’s relations with Pakistan.

The second phase of Indian elections came to an end on  April 18th and the third phase is in progress as of today (Tuesday). First three phases shall make 57 per cent (303 out of 543 seats) with fourth phase scheduled for April 29th, making the quantum to 374 (69%). With 543 MPs in Indian Lok Sabha, to get simple majority and form government, one requires 272 MPs. In the first week of April, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had predicted the possibility of an Indian attack against Pakistan linked with elections. The FM gave a time bracket (for the attack) – between 16th to 20th April. We may extend time bracket for use of kinetic means by India until April 29th when the last phase of election in occupied Kashmir and over 80% of overall elections concludes.

900 million eligible voters and one million polling stations are involved in the seven phases of Indian elections. These numbers certainly makes the election interesting. The vote count is scheduled for May 23rd.

India had spent 5 bn US dollars on elections in 2014, and the expenditure is likely to be doubled this year. Three largest states including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar shall witness elections in all seven phases. 16 states will vote in two to four phases. Uttar Pradesh holds major influence in Indian politics with 80 MPs belonging to the state. BJP won 71 out of 80 seats in 2014. The rivalry was between two regional parties which gave a land sliding victory to BJP but these two parties are allies against BJP this time. This state alone has the ability to halt the march of BJP to Delhi. With the trends of lower polls, Congress is likely to win in Rajastahn, Chhattisgarh and Madya Pradesh where BJP got 62 out of 65 seats in 2014.

India, being the third largest Asian economy, lost momentum of development under Modi’s regime. Despite growth rate of 6.8% in 2018, currency ban of 2016 has hurt Indians. Exports have dropped, unemployment has risen while state banks are drowning in bad loans. Farmers are unhappy rather angry over BJP government which might have a great deal of impact on the election results.

Congress with less than 20% popular votes in 2014, has shown its strength in July 18 by snatching three key northern states from BJP in December 2018. The party has formally inducted Priyanka Gandhi in politics which has provided fresh energy to the party.

India’s educated lot has another concern: It does not feel Modi’s compatibility with Imran Khan as head of the state. Who takes the trend votes and what impact it has on overall election results is a million dollar question.

Harsh reality of today’s India clearly proves that 170 million Muslims are an invisible minority today. BJP had no Muslim MP in the Lok Sabha for five years. Indian elections are a referendum over Modi who had promised corruption free India and said the country will see better times after his 2014 victory.

Whatever the outcome of the Indian elections, the short-term relevance for Pakistan is how far Modi’s generated and orchestrated nationalism in the backdrop of Pulwama attack will tilt the electoral balance in India. More importantly, will Modi be able to get away with overlooking other issues of India and fetch another five years merely because of his aggression against Pakistan? Will the world witness shattering secularism in India for next five years?

Meanwhile, the Pakistani nation does not require a ‘time frame’ for any probable aggression. We request PM Imran Khan to understand that in today’s world, global and regional security concerns are linked with domestic dynamics and remain a product of an interplay between human and economic resources, opportunities and anxieties as well as technological competencies and proliferation. Religious sentiments and social dynamics are also some major factors at play. Thus, PM Imran must work towards uplifting the economic growth, change in security vision, enhanced pace of criminal justice through legislation and administrative reforms with good governance. This will automatically address internal political turmoil. Our success on this front would also ultimately address the issue of killings aided by foreign powers and other regional security and domestic social.

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