Hope Still Endures: India’s 2024 Elections Marks a Unique Triumph for Democracy

Aditya Iyer
4 min readJun 4, 2024

Defying pessimists, the achievements that the progressive INDIA coalition has made despite an unfair and decidedly unfree election has dented the forces of Hindu Fascism, and brought something rarely felt over the last decade of Indian politics: hope.

More than 600 million Indians voted in the 2024 General Elections. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

“Abki baar, 400 paar” (this time, 400 seats). So went the slogan of India’s Hindu Fascist Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the world’s largest elections began. He was referring to gaining an unprecedented majority in India’s Parliament. Many feared he would succeed, and subsequently rip up India’s secular Constitution.

But Modi, a strongman not overburdened with humility or tact, has failed. As the results began streaming in yesterday, a bewildered nation began waking up to the possibility of hope and light.

Narendra Modi’s politics of hatred, of bile, of communal violence, has failed. The BJP no longer commands a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own, and now depends on two key allies — Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) party in Bihar and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh — to form a government. Coalition politics is back on the agenda.

So too is hope for India. This year’s elections were unprecedented in how the ruling BJP government utilised every weapon at their disposal to target their opponents — from jailing Delhi’s Chief Minister a month before polls opened to freezing the bank accounts of the main Opposition coalition on spurious grounds.

Yet despite a supine Supreme Court refusing to act as a check and balance; despite a cowardly mainstream media that has long eschewed being critical commentators in favour of being jubilant courtiers; despite an Election Commission of India that has been appallingly lax in its enforcement of election norms, and structured the polls to suit the Hindu Fascist strongman’s whims; despite police harassing and beating up Muslim voters; despite the numerous discrepancies recorded in Election Voting Machines (EVMs) — Modi has lost.

This statement may seem peculiar to those unfamiliar with Indian politics, and the moribund direction its democracy has been going since Modi first came to power in 2014. After all, he is still likely to form a government with himself as Prime Minister for a historic third term, matching the record set by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

But the difference this time is that the aura of invincibility that Modi has carefully cultivated for decades has been shattered. The descent from arrogantly declaring 400 seats to depending on two mercurial allies to form a coalition government is undoubtedly a rough one.

Years ago, in what increasingly feels like another life, I reported on the 2016 State Assembly Elections in Tamil Nadu. Modi’s address in Chennai was amongst the many I covered, and it was a comedy of errors from the get-go.

From his Tamil translator getting things wrong, to his microphone failing, to Venkaiah Naidu proudly declaring in broken Tamil that he couldn’t speak the local language before switching to Telugu, the experience continues to be a source of amusement for me years later.

But it was the look on Modi’s face that has remained with me; discontent, embarrassment, discomfort. There is nothing Fascists dislike more than the smoke and mirrors behind their mystique image dissipated, revealing the truth that they are little more than a joke for all to see.

Yesterday, I, along with millions of other Indians, witnessed that same look on the Hindu supremacist leader’s face as he realised he has achieved a pyrrhic victory.

Hope has enervated the Opposition once again, which has rediscovered its robust voice and developed strong roots within rural India. The new composition of the Lok Sabha will also dictate that bills will actually be debated as it should be, and not passed without dissent often witnessed in the farce the last 5 years has proven to be.

All those who sold their souls to profit from the death of India’s democracy, from judges, to Election Commission officials, to so-called “journalists” in mainstream media are rather red-faced right now. No one more so than Gautam Adani, the Gujarati sugar daddy bankrolling the Hindutva machine, whose stock prices took a dive on Tuesday.

The Leader of India’s Opposition Coaltion, Rahul Gandhi, speaking to reporters about the correlation between Modi’s election results and Adani’s stock prices in Delhi, 3 June 2024. Footage Courtesy: ANI

Their wretchedness is seen, and will be remembered by all as their legacy.

More importantly, the people of India have spoken. Modi likes to call India the “mother of democracy”. Today he, alongside the servile commentators, analysts, and billionaires who support him, have been rudely reminded it is the people who are the custodians of that democracy; not any single party or institution.

Fascism and authoritarianism thrive by instilling hopelessness amongst the societies they infect and subjugate. As the American academic Sadiya Hartman wrote, “So much of the work of oppression is about policing the imagination.”

The capaciousness of an ideal egalitarian future will always be circumscribed by the limits of electoral politics. But for the first time in a decade, many Indians now feel free to dream about that future again, and to realistically hope for its eventual coming.

This is just the beginning of the fight. The cancer of Hindutva is weakened, but not yet defeated. It must be excised from the body politic of India before the damage it has wreaked across our societies and institutions over the last decade can be gauged and repaired.

Realistic hope requires gearing up for the long term struggle. But the first cracks in the seemingly unvanquishable edifice of Hindutva politics has emerged.

May it be completely ground to dust.

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Aditya Iyer

Freelance journalist and writer. Interests: history (pre- and post-colonial), culture, and immigration. Also strives to befriend small animals.