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With the first phase of the 2024 general elections looming just three weeks away, political camps are gearing up for what promises to be a fierce electoral showdown. In a departure from past elections, the Indian Opposition is entering the fray with a candid acknowledgment of the incumbent government’s anticipated return with a strengthened majority. Mallikarjuna Kharge, Congress Party president and leader of the Opposition, light-heartedly quipped during the concluding session of the 17th Parliament, referencing their target of “Ab ki baar 400 par…,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to aiming for 400 seats this time, up from their current majority of 330-334 seats. However, the opposition’s attempts to forge a semblance of unity under the INDI Alliance against the unstoppable momentum of “Once More Modi Sarkar” are faltering.

Even high-profile initiatives like the Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have backfired, dealing significant blows to the opposition, particularly the Congress. These setbacks are largely self-inflicted, stemming from their failure to address substantive issues and their ineffectiveness in offering constructive alternatives. Consequently, the electoral landscape appears heavily skewed, with the electorate now more curious about what lies ahead rather than who will emerge victorious.

Expressing a degree of confidence in returning to power, Prime Minister Modi has announced a financial assistance package of Rs 10,000 crore for Bhutan over the next five years. Media reports are also rife with speculation about Modi’s meetings with ministers to outline plans for the first 100 days of his government’s third term. Sustained political stability is a cornerstone of any developed nation. For three decades, India grappled with coalition governments, sacrificing its developmental agenda in the name of “coalition dharma.” This lack of stability impeded economic growth, allowing China to surge ahead, and leaving India far behind.

A third term for the Modi government holds the promise of addressing this disparity. India stands at the threshold of a critical phase of development. Unlike China’s authoritarian regime, which insulated itself from external influences, India has been susceptible to foreign interference. The loyalty of Indian Communists to the Soviet Union facilitated its infiltration into Indian politics, which waned only after the Soviet collapse. Since India’s economic liberalization, external agencies have sought connections with influential entities across Indian society.

The Modi government’s unwavering nationalism and developmental vision have frustrated vested interests intent on exploiting India for their agendas. Their concerted efforts to destabilize India and undermine its democracy through the international media have been met with resistance. Consequently, India’s global rankings have plummeted across various indices, with its decline starkly contrasting with its development trajectory.

The West’s recent criticism of India’s domestic affairs, particularly the arrest of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, reflects a brazen interference in India’s sovereignty. India has firmly rebuffed these attempts, asserting its commitment to democratic principles and human rights. However, the repeated interventions raise concerns about Western motives and underscore the need for vigilance against external influences.

India must confront these challenges head-on to safeguard its democracy and sovereignty. Establishing its own Democratic Index is a crucial step in countering external narratives and asserting its independence on the global stage.