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Modi Faces ‘Pandora’s Box’ If No Majority, India Opposition Says

India’s opposition alliance is well behind in the polls ahead of an election set to be announced shortly. One key member is warning that Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces trouble if his ruling party wins the most seats but fails to secure a majority in parliament.

In politics for decades, the 71-year-old Yechury is critical to keeping the opposition alliance intact. 
In politics for decades, the 71-year-old Yechury is critical to keeping the opposition alliance intact. 

India’s opposition alliance is well behind in the polls ahead of an election set to be announced shortly. One key member is warning that Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces trouble if his ruling party wins the most seats but fails to secure a majority in parliament. 

Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — one of 30 opposition parties that have banded together for the elections — said in an interview the anti-Modi alliance faces a “tough battle” and he “can’t really quantify” how many seats the group can win. But they can do well enough to trigger disarray in Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, he said.

“They are mortally afraid that the BJP may not get a majority on its own,” Yechury said at the party’s office in New Delhi on Thursday. “In which there’s a Pandora’s Box that will open within them.”

“The supremacy of Modi in that sense will be challenged, and that is Modi’s fear,” Yechury said, adding that “all those who have been sidelined” in the BJP would then seek to challenge the prime minister. 

In politics for decades, the 71-year-old Yechury is critical to keeping the opposition alliance intact. However, the influence of the left-wing parties in India has waned while Modi and his Hindu-first agenda becomes more ingrained in domestic politics. 

Modi appears poised to extend his decade in power in an election set to take place over the next few months. Surging economic growth, handouts for the poor and moves appealing to the Hindu majority have all but cemented Modi’s grip on power in the South Asian nation of 1.4 billion people. 

The opposition is seeking to crack into Modi’s base with a state-by-state campaign aimed at celebrating India’s religious diversity and offering support to low-income households in the form of a universal basic income, urban employment programs and more free food rations, Yechury said. 

“It is not a level playing field at all,” he said. “The focus therefore is direct access and contact to the people.”  

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