A look at how major Indian English newspapers reported the BJP’s failure to get absolute majority, and its dependence on the members of NDA to form the government

The 2024 Lok Sabha election results, announced late Tuesday night (June 5), pulled the rug from under the BJP’s feet, leaving political analysts and enthusiastic WhatsApp uncles scrambling for explanations. The BJP's seat tally in the Lok Sabha fell from 303 to a more modest 240. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could only muster 292 seats, shy of the simple majority. The Congress, on the other hand, rose like a phoenix, securing 99 seats compared to its previous 52. The Opposition INDIA bloc collectively bagged 232 seats.

The Times of India, with its characteristic flair, ran a banner headline: “Hat-tricky: NDA 272 paar, INDIA raises bar”. The story noted that the BJP had been blindsided by a “strong Opposition.” It highlighted the BJP's losses were attributed to several factors: Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party’s resurgence in Uttar Pradesh, the synergistic teamwork of Congress, Uddhav Thackeray, and Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, and Mamata Banerjee's indomitable spirit in defending West Bengal.

The Hindu kept it simple: “BJP falls short, needs allies to govern”. It outlined the NDA's newfound dependence on allies like N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), underlining the coalition's precarious position.

The Telegraph takes the cake

Trust The Telegraph to come up with the most apt, on-the-nose and hard-hitting headline. Its editors, the finest in business, have shown us on several occasions before how they don’t hold back from calling a spade a spade. Sometimes, their headlines are worth a thousand words. On Wednesday, it carried an eight-column photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the headline, “India cuts Modi down”, succinctly capturing the essence of the public sentiment. The paper opined that the election verdict had "effected corrections on the democracy scale," ushering in an inspired Opposition not willing to bow out of the power stakes just yet. It took a swipe at Modi's hubris, recalling his proclamation of being “sent by God” and highlighting his fall from the lofty “400-paar” ambition to the reality of a mortal politician.

The New Indian Express headlined the electoral aftermath with “WHITTLED DOWN MODI 3.0”. It noted the political ballet between Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu, who were expected to offer their support to the NDA, and the impressive showings by the Opposition in key states like Maharashtra and West Bengal.

Deccan Herald followed suit with “MODI 3.0, DIMINISHED”, reflecting on the BJP's significant slip below the majority mark and the consequent empowerment of its NDA allies. Mint, in a front-page story headlined “Coalition Karma”, observed how the NDA's partners now found themselves in a commanding position due to the stiff challenge posed by the INDIA bloc.

A bit of wit, and drama

Hindustan Times went for a bit of drama: “POLITWIST: IT'S GAME ON!” It described the narrow majority the NDA was heading for, despite the Opposition's strong performances in populous states, setting the stage for a third term for Modi, albeit with a more dependent government structure.

The Economic Times played on the popular catchphrase: “Abki Baar Coalition Sarkar”, acknowledging the fractured mandate that compelled the BJP to turn to its allies for a majority, and the unexpectedly strong performance of the Opposition. The Tribune, in a poetic touch, headlined “INDIA blooms, lotus wilts”, capturing the humbling of the BJP and the resurgence of coalition politics.

Financial Express ran the headline, “NDA wins, INDIA shines”, reflecting on the pre-election debates about the NDA's ambition of crossing the 400-seat mark and the Congress's struggle to retain its 2019 numbers. Finally, The Free Press Journal delivered a sobering “AB KI BAAR, REALITY CHECK”. It noted that contrary to many exit poll predictions, the BJP fell significantly short of the majority mark.

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