Narendra Modi will be sworn in for a third time at 6 pm Sunday.

New Delhi:

Narendra Modi – to be sworn in Sunday as a three-term Prime Minister after Chandrababu Naidu‘s TDP and Nitish Kumar‘s JDU dragged his BJP past the 272-seat majority mark – mocked eternal rival Congress for failing to win as many seats in this election. The Congress, he declared, had yet again failed to cross the 100-seat mark and won fewer seats in three elections than the BJP had in one.

Mr Modi – whose party finished with 240 seats, its lowest return in 15 years – also said “we were neither defeated nor are we defeated” and claimed, “Our values are such we do not develop frenzy during victory and do not mock the defeated. We do not have perversion of mocking the defeated.”

Mr Modi then taunted his rivals over their poor electoral performance.

“Even after 10 years Congress could not touch the figure of 100 seats. If we combine the 2014, 2019, and 2024 elections… Congress did not even get as many seats as BJP got in this election. I can clearly see people of INDI Alliance (the BJP’s jibe at the INDIA bloc) were sinking slowly earlier… now they are going to sink at a faster pace…” the Prime Minister-designate proclaimed.

The Congress, which led the INDIA opposition bloc in this election, finished with 99 wins from the 328 seats it contested. That was the party’s best result in 15 years; it won 44 in 2014 and 52 in 2019.

The last time the party scored in the triple digits was in 2009 when it won 206 seats and propelled former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance to a second term.

READ | Congress May Hit 100 In Lok Sabha With Rebel’s Return

Mr Modi’s jibe, though, may be premature, for the Congress could still hit the 100-mark if Vishal Patil, a party rebel who contested and won from Maharashtra’s Sangli, re-joins the party.

In a post on X this morning, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Welcoming the support of elected MP from Sangli, Shri Vishal Patil to the Congress party”.

In a lengthy speech that included multiple jabs and jibes at the Congress and the opposition, Mr Modi also made a pitch for governance by consensus and coalition politics. “Our alliance reflects the spirit of India and we are dedicated to upholding constitutional values. NDA is the most successful…”

“When I was speaking in this House in 2019 you chose me as the leader. Then I emphasised one thing… trust. Today, when you are giving me this role again, it means the bridge of trust between us is strong. This relationship is built on a strong foundation… and that is its biggest asset.”

The remarks are seen as acknowledgement of his reliance on allies – new territory after enjoying brute majorities in 2014 and 2019. The BJP needs the support of Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar. Mr Naidu’s TDP and the JDU of Nitish Kumar are seen as kingmakers after the TDP and JDU won 28 seats; take those away and the NDA does not have the numbers to form the government.

READ | NDA Meets To Decide On Cabinet, Nitish, C Naidu Seek Key Posts

“The mandate of 2024 is strengthening one thing again and again – the country trusts only NDA. When there is such unbreakable trust, it is natural for expectations to increase. This is good…I said earlier past 10 years were a trailer. It was not an election statement, it was my commitment…”

“For me, all leaders of all parties are equal in Parliament. When we talk about ‘sabka prayaas‘, for us, everyone is equal, whether from our party or not. This is why NDA is strong in past 30 years…”

2024 Lok Sabha Election Results

The INDIA bloc finished with 232 seats – 40 short of majority.

There has been speculation the group could reach out to Nitish Kumar, who helped set it up before internal squabbles and clashing ambitions meant he pivoted to the BJP’s side. Sources close to the Bihar leader ruled out a return but used the INDIA bloc’s reported interest to warn the BJP as the JDU (and other NDA members) jostle and bargain for their ‘reward’ – minister berths and key posts.

READ | As BJP Weighs Nitish Kumar’s Terms, A Lesson From His INDIA Bloc Exit

There has been similar buzz about Mr Naidu, who has also made his demands, which include cabinet appointments and the post of Lok Sabha Speaker. Mr Naidu, though, has publicly backed the NDA.

Adding the TDP and JDU to its fold will not give INDIA enough to form the government, but it will stop the BJP from doing so, and, potentially, trigger a prolonged phase of bargaining for power.

The BJP had targeted 370 seats for itself and 400+ with allies.

But, as it turned out, it was pegged back in key states – losing 29 seats in Uttar Pradesh and 24 in Maharashtra – by the opposition, while its allies nearly doubled their 30-seat target.

READ | Modi To Take Oath As 3-Time PM On Sunday Evening

However, the BJP is still set to form the government, thanks to the TDP and JDU, which have given letters of support to Mr Modi and praised him during a meeting of NDA MPs this morning. Mr Modi will be sworn in for a third time – matching Congress stalwart Jawaharlal Nehru’s record – at 6 pm Sunday.

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