India election results 2024: BJP supporters in UAE react to Modi victory

Congress supporters say it's a call for change while demanding inflation and inequality must be addressed

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Many Indian citizens in the UAE gathered with friends and family to keep track of the general election results that have a “humbled” Narendra Modi entering a second decade as Prime Minister.

Orange-clad supporters of Mr Modi met in living rooms decorated with large cardboard cut-outs of the BJP leader in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other emirates as they watched the results of the world’s biggest election unfold on Tuesday.

Kusum Dutta, a Dubai resident, expressed joy that the BJP will stay in power as the result will make Mr Modi only the second Indian leader after the nation's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to lead for a third successive term.

“What is important is that it will be the BJP raaj (rule). It’s not the best result and so people are a little sad because we had high ambitions to form a government on our own,” said Ms Dutta, 75, who runs an auto parts business in Dubai.

“I’m still happy not just for the BJP but for India because there has been so much improvement in the infrastructure, the economy.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party, and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance, in 2019 won 352 out of 543 seats in India's lower house of parliament with the BJP alone winning 303 seats.

You cannot take anything for granted, the BJP has learnt that and Modi has been humbled
Ibrahim Khaleel, Congress supporter and Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre official

This time the party on its own looks likely to fall short of the 272 seats required to wield a majority in parliament, but is set to remain the largest party with Mr Modi likely to form a coalition government.

Celebrations in UAE homes and hotel conference rooms booked to view the results were subdued as the BJP requires the support of allies to form the government unlike its resounding 2019 victory.

The ruling party has suffered setbacks in states considered strongholds such as northern Uttar Pradesh but will remain in power with the help of allies in southern states such as Andhra Pradesh.

Historic vote

BJP supporters were taken aback by the gains made by the INDIA block led by the Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi.

“I do believe the BJP will further develop India but I feel that more must be done by the new government to be more inclusive,” said Abu Dhabi resident Dinesh Manakkatt, who works for an engineering company.

“I would like the government to clearly express displeasure when fringe elements make negative statements against the minority community.”

Mr Manakkatt was among thousands of UAE voters who returned home to southern Kerala state to vote in the elections.

He said it was vital to vote in the Thrissur constituency where the BJP has won a parliamentary seat for the first time ever in Kerala.

“I went back to vote because I truly believe every vote counts and I wanted to make sure that Thrissur develops,” he said.

“This day is historic for us because it is BJP’s first win in Kerala and we were part of it.”

India surpassed the UK as the world’s fifth largest economy last year with a GDP of $3.7 trillion.

But rising unemployment that crossed 7 per cent during the BJP’s second term has played a crucial factor in the elections.

Supporters said staying in government after a decade even with a reduced margin was cause for celebration.

Narendra Kulkarni, who flew to the western city of Pune with his wife to vote, said the BJP had its work cut out for it.

“When a politician goes to the voters, they promise many things and I do believe that the BJP will deliver on its promise of more development,” he said.

“I also do believe welfare schemes have gone to all Indians without looking at religion.”

Stronger opposition

Congress supporters said the voters were clearly unhappy with the ruling party and wanted change.

The Congress alone is leading in nearly 100 parliamentary seats, almost double the 52 seats it won in 2019.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front is set to sweep Kerala state where people voted against a communist-led government.

Dozens of Congress supporters crowded into the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre office in Dubai to celebrate in front of big television screens.

“I’m very excited because this is a call for change,” said Ibrahim Khaleel, KMCC secretary.

“I went to vote to India because you cannot take anything for granted.

“Modi has been humbled. For the past 10 years, the rich are becoming richer and the poor are suffering.

“Prices have gone up and the government is discriminatory in its polices to the minorities.

“India is a beautiful country that gives rights to all and the people looked for change.”

Sajid Aboobacker, a legal consultant, was among those who packed in four flights chartered from Ras Al Khaimah to Calicut city in Kerala to vote last month.

“The Congress made it clear to voters that we will protect India and the constitution,” said Mr Aboobacker, a senior KMCC secretary.

“Modi concentrated on the big shots and forgot the small people. He was concerned only with the rich and people who were religious.

“He was not concerned about the middle class and the poor.

“The Congress will work for a united India that is not polarised.

“The BJP will have to change his attitude, obey the Indian constitution and listen to all citizens of India.”

Updated: June 04, 2024, 4:46 PM