What is the composition of Rajya Sabha

Background current

India has elected a new parliament. A good 900 million people were called to vote. After counting almost all the votes, the ruling BJP party achieved an absolute majority. This means that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to enter his second term in office.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanks his supporters at the headquarters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in New Delhi on the day of the count. (& copy picture-alliance, Xinhua News Agency)

India, the world's most populous democracy with a population of 1.3 billion, has elected a new parliament. More than 8,000 candidates - almost nine percent of them women - fought for the votes of the roughly 900 million eligible voters. In order to ensure sufficient security forces and election workers, the election was divided into seven phases and lasted a total of 39 days. The largest, most expensive and longest elections in the world ended on May 19th.

The Indian Parliament consists of the Chamber of States (Rajya Sabha / Upper House) "House of States" and the Lower House (Lok Sabha) "House of the People". The House of Commons currently has 543 seats. The elections, which take place every five years, are based on majority voting. The so-called "first past the post" principle means that the person with the most votes in a constituency receives the seat in the Lok Sabha. Disadvantaged tribal groups (Scheduled Tribes) and lower caste groups (Shedulded Castes) receive a number of reserved seats according to their share of the population.

Hindu nationalists achieve an absolute majority

In the election, the party of the previous Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP (Baharatiya Janata Party), prevailed with great success. According to the preliminary official final result, the Hindu nationalist party won 351 of the 542 seats counted. This means that Modi can continue to govern with an absolute majority in the second term of office.

His strongest challengers from the congress party INC (Indian National Congress) received only 91 seats with their party alliance and thus fell short of expectations. The party led by Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi could not prevail against the Hindu nationalists.

Economic issues determined the election campaign

One of the main issues in the Indian election campaign was social issues. Both parties focused on the economic situation in India. While the BJP campaigned for an improvement in the income situation of farmers and called for tax cuts for the middle class, the Congress party wanted to introduce an annual basic income for poor families and campaign for greater support for young job seekers.

Despite a high annual economic growth of around seven percent in recent years (source World Bank), there is still great inequality and poverty in India. According to a United Nations report, several hundred million people are still poor or extremely poor and have to live on less than $ 1.90 a day.

Religious Conflicts

In addition to economic issues, religious conflicts determined the election campaign. Religion has become one of the most important lines of conflict in recent years. Religious minorities accuse Narendra Modi and his ruling party BJP of serving resentment against them and restricting their freedoms, for example by banning cattle, which are venerated as sacred in Hinduism. There are always arguments between Hindus and Muslims.

In an interview with “Background News”, Christian Wagner, Southeast Asia expert from the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP), speaks about the consequences of the Modi victory for the political system of the world's largest democracy, religious tensions and the still great poverty in the country.

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