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A second chance for Narendra Modi

BangkokIn the end it was surprisingly fast: After a month-long election campaign and a more than six-week vote, many Indians have adjusted to a lengthy census of nearly 600 million votes. But after just 80 minutes, India's news broadcaster announced that the alliance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading in a majority of constituencies.

And this lead, which had previously been in by-election surveys, the 68-year-old incumbent does not seem to take more. The count still lasts, but the gap is huge: his alliance leads in the race to more than 300 seats. The opposition alliance comes to only slightly more than 100. A second term for the leader of the Hindu nationalist party BJP is therefore clear.

India's financial markets came in for joy. The leading index rose more than two percent to a new all-time high. The national currency rupee also increased in relation to the US dollar. Already on Monday, the stock market in the financial metropolis of Mumbai had reacted with the biggest daily gain in three years – in response to forecasts by pollsters predicting a Modis victory.

The opposition surrounding the Congressional leader Rahul Gandhi had encouraged hopes of surprise among supporters until recently, pointing out that post-election polls on the subcontinent were often unreliable. But Gandhi's miracle did not happen. The 48-year-old, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were already prime ministers, must continue to content himself with the role of the opposition leader.

He succeeded after a disastrous result of his party in the previous election in 2014 at most a respectable success: He had the late morning local time the prospect of winning more than 30 parliamentary seats in addition.

In the election campaign, Gandhi accused the incumbent of creating millions of jobs in his promise to have failed. The unemployment rate rose during Modi's tenure, according to statistics agencies to the highest level in decades. He also attacked Modi for its cash reform, which had caused chaos in the country for weeks, and accused the government of corruption in connection with the purchase of French fighter jets worth around eight billion euros.

The duel between Modi and Gandhi had electrified India for months – and led to the highest turnout in the history of Indian parliamentary elections: more than 67 percent of the approximately 900 million voters participated in the vote in the largest democracy in the world.

While Modi had presented himself as an economic reformer before his first election five years ago, his party was able to score with nationalist tones this time. A military strike against alleged terrorist positions in neighboring Pakistan met with great approval from his compatriots. At the same time he saw himself accused of supporting party friends, who made a mood against the Muslim minority in the predominantly Hindu country.

Income of farmers should be doubled by 2022

However, Modi's National Democratic Alliance-an alliance that has closed its BJP to smaller parties-has sparked initial public opinion post-election expectations to focus primarily on economic policy in the next legislative period. "We are determined to accelerate economic growth and meet the needs of the population over the next five years," said Rajnath Singh, the previous Minister of the Interior.

He reiterated the campaign pledge to spend $ 1.4 trillion in infrastructure development over the next five years – and to invest more than $ 350 billion in agriculture. By 2022, his party wanted to double the farmers' income.

After his first five years as head of government, Modi's economic balance was mixed from the perspective of economists. A positive assessment was made of the uniform sales tax he implemented, which simplified the previous tax burden between India's federal states. Also Modis new insolvency law is praised. However, economic growth weakened recently and fell below the seven percent mark again. Despite a massive advertising campaign under the slogan "Make in India", the Prime Minister failed to attract large quantities of foreign factories, as he had hoped.

Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief economist for French investment bank Natixis, said: "It seems clear that the reform agenda has not created enough jobs to accommodate the many additional workers." Obviously, Modi's voters are ready to give him a second chance to give.

More on the subject: Read a portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.

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