May 16, 2014 | 12:06 GMT

5 mins read

A Chronology of India's Challenges as a New Government Takes Form

A Chronology of the Indian Election Process
(Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
After five weeks of parliamentary elections, held across India from April 7 to May 12, the Bharatiya Janata Party swept to formal victory May 16. Media reports indicate that the BJP is expected, along with its National Democratic Alliance partners, to take 543 of the obtainable seats in the legislature. A majority requires 272 seats. The bloc's victory will make the BJP's Narendra Modi the next prime minister.
The results of India's parliamentary elections come at a critical time for New Delhi. While India deals with a slowing economy, the international community expects change. This leaves India's future government with the daunting task of generating economic reform while also securing Indian interests abroad.
Modi is known domestically and internationally for eschewing the bureaucratic bottlenecks that have historically obstructed India's development, and he and his allies campaigned heavily on a platform of economic reform and revitalization. But the path toward change in India will not be easy. As former chief minister of Gujarat, Modi will have to adjust from being the powerful head of an economically vibrant state to the relatively weak leader of a large and diverse country. Modi will have to balance local and regional interests on a national level, and India's highly democratized political system will impede sweeping changes to New Delhi's massive subsidy programs. While Modi will try to push an aggressive, business-friendly agenda, change will not come easily or quickly for India.
Stratfor has outlined India's fundamental geopolitical realities, which include a political system plagued by a weak central government. Below are recent analyses of these and related issues.

India: Local Interests Will Complicate National Elections

April 5, 2014: Two parties dominate India's political landscape: the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, and the Indian National Congress. The BJP's prime minister candidate, Narendra Modi, is a controversial pro-business Hindu nationalist who currently serves as chief minister of the economically vibrant Gujarat state. Congress, on the other hand, is semi-socialist and one of the world's oldest political parties, currently in its fourth generation of Gandhi family leadership. India's elections, especially the potential for a Modi victory, will be watched with an eye toward reform. Regardless of the outcome, India's next leader will be constrained by India's geopolitical realities.

The U.S. Reaches Out to an Indian Opposition Figure

Feb. 11, 2014: The United States has once again found it prudent to engage the world's largest, albeit complex, democracy: India. The country's social media networks and news outlets were abuzz with the news Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell has requested a meeting with Narendra Modi, the chief minister for Gujarat state. A simultaneously dynamic and divisive political figure, Modi has been no stranger to controversy since a wave of sectarian violence struck Gujarat in early 2002.

India's Tryst with Destiny

Oct. 9, 2013: India could offer the world an electoral drama next spring, with geopolitical repercussions for the whole Eurasian rimland. Narendra Modi, the charismatic chief minister of Gujarat in northwestern India, will likely run for prime minister against Rahul Gandhi, the great-grandson of the political forefather of India's modern republic, Jawaharlal Nehru. Modi has many enemies yet promises to shake things up in a country with vast potential but stuck in the economic and institutional doldrums. Gandhi, who has far less experience and is half-Italian, is actually the less-disruptive, more conservative choice.

India's Search for Greater Food Security

Sept. 9, 2013: India's new Food Security Bill reflects not only the ongoing demographic challenges impeding India's rise in the region, but also New Delhi's constraints in moving away from costly populist policies. The embattled United Progressive Alliance government passed the bill, a $22 billion grain subsidization scheme, on Sept. 2, some eight months before Indians head to the polls for national elections in May 2014.

In Telangana Decision, a Microcosm of India's Geopolitical Challenge

July 31, 2013: India is set to inaugurate its 29th state: Telangana will be carved out of the existing southern state of Andhra Pradesh after the highest working body of India's ruling Congress Party decided late July 30 to find the legal means to create the new entity. The success of the Telangana movement for statehood encapsulates the deep-rooted struggles New Delhi faces in trying to preserve and manage a nation riven with internal complexities.

India Attempts to Boost Its Image

July 23, 2013: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a group of senior Cabinet members to his home late July 16 to work on one critical goal: convincing the world that India still deserves its status as an emerging economy and is thus worthy of billions of dollars of investment to sustain the country's economic growth. But India, like several other countries trying to cling to a decade-old reputation as promising, albeit high-maintenance, destinations for investment, is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with a global economic slowdown that has quickly and painfully rebranded the country as stagnant.

India: The Congress Party's Strategy Going Forward

Nov. 6, 2012: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Oct. 28 reshuffled the Cabinet of his United Progressive Alliance government following the departure of the All India Trinamool Congress from the alliance Sept. 21. The Indian National Congress is responding to an alarming trend whereby India's historical two-party system is declining while the formation of smaller political parties among regional and minority interests is on the rise. The growing dependence on the support of increasingly independent minority parties could have serious implications for the Congress party's ability not only to pursue its ambitious economic and infrastructure reforms but also to stay relevant on the national stage.

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