by Subir Bhaumik (from Calcutta, India)

Almost all poll rating agencies have predicted a victory for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, only differing on the final tally. Some suggest the BJP-led NDA alliance may cross the 400 seat mark in the 543-member house, endorsing the BJP’s current war cry “Ab Ki BAR, 400 par” (this time more than 400), which replaced the slogan of last two polls “ab ki bar, Modi Sarkar” (this time Modi government).

The BJP seems to have taken for granted an outright victory. Still, they are keen to secure a 3/4 majority to be able to implement their controversial agenda which sets India towards a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation-state). One of that is the enforcement of the Uniform Civil Code which will deny Muslims the use of Islamic laws within the community on issues like marriage and divorce, inheritance and education. The BJP has already carried out pilot projects in this direction, such as the closure of madrassas or Islamic Seminars in the state of Assam and the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code in Himachal Pradesh. “They are out to change the idea of India, so we have to stop them from securing a 3/4 majority, at least,” says Congress spokesperson Bobbeeta Sarmah. 

Some pollsters say a 3/4 majority for the BJP looks far away. A detailed report by India’s Intelligence Bureau predicts a BJP victory and its return to power but not “anything like a sweeping majority.” The Intelligence Bureau’s report is not based on sample surveys as is done by various poll rating agencies but on detailed constituency reports submitted by field units during February-March 2024, covering all 543 Lok Sabha constituencies in 766 districts of India.

The IB reports that the BJP may win 284 to 328 seats and its smaller allies between 39 to 54 seats. It predicts a poor showing for the former ruling Congress, between 47 and 63 seats. Other regional parties that are part of the Congress-led INDIA alliance could win between 43 and 67 seats, and independent parties between 7 and 12 seats.

The poll rating agencies follow a select sample method that often is not expansive enough for a large and complex country like India that bears a parliamentary and not a presidential system. The Congress is expected to win only 47 seats. In 2019, the party won 52 constituencies. According to the latest opinion polls, the opposition bloc INDIA alliance, including the Congress, is expected to win 94 seats, while the BJP-led NDA can win 399 constituencies.

The Intelligence Bureau’s report reflects this trend – all things being equal, the BJP-led NDA is set for a third term. While there is no doubt about this, there is intense speculation about the BJP-NDA’s margin of victory. If the NDA alliance wins a three-fourths majority, it will be able to push through many of the reforms on its Hindutva agenda, some of which, like the uniform civil code, are controversial, though some NDA alliance partners may object to some of them.

Poll Outlook (Rating Agencies). According to Intelligence Bureau survey, BJP is likely to secure 328 seats, Congress 47, Trinamool Congress 19 Lok Sabha seats, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) 18 constituencies, Janata Dal (United) 14, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 6, Samajwadi Party (SP) 3, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) 12 and others 91 seats.

The IB pre-poll survey stated that Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) may draw a blank in Uttar Pradesh, while the BJP can win 73 seats and its alliance partners RLD and Apna Dal (S) are expected to secure two seats each. Congress can only win one seat in various states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, West Bengal, and Lakshadweep. The opinion poll predicted that the grand old party may also come empty-handed in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam.

The regional parties including TMC, DMK, YSRCP, TDP, and BJD can win a significant number of seats in their respective states. TMC may win 19 seats in West Bengal, DMK 18 seats in Tamil Nadu, BJD 11 seats in Odisha, and YSRCP and TDP may win 10 and 12 seats respectively in Andhra Pradesh. However, Sonia Gandhi-led Congress is expected to perform better in other states. It can win 7 seats in Kerala, 4 in Karnataka, 3 in Punjab, 8 in Tamil Nadu, and 9 in Telangana.

In elections to the 543-member Lok Sabha, a political party or coalition needs to win at least 272 seats. In the 2019 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Pary won 290 seats and the NDA’s total number of seats was 346. The Congress-led INDIA alliance has failed to produce a national leader good enough to challenge PM Modi, and its internal bickering has not been limited to leadership issues but has been reflected in seat-sharing negotiations.

Despite the recent gloomy economic outlook, the BJP has managed to raise hopes of recovery through appropriate fiscal measures, substantial infrastructure spending and alternatives for grassroots development and poverty alleviation. PM Modi’s appeal is not so much about current performance, where many contentious issues remain such as the handling of Manipur, but about the hope of big change, which appeals particularly to GenNext. The BJP’s pitch fits India’s demographic profile. According to the revised population figures for 2022, India has 1.40 billion people: 65 per cent of them are under 35 and 50 per cent under 25.

On the cover photo, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi ©Saikat Paul/