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BJP's narrow majority could shift focus to rural spending, increased private investments: Bernstein report

BJP's narrow majority could shift focus to rural spending, increased private investments: Bernstein report
New Delhi [India], June 5 (ANI): The recent election results have delivered a surprise verdict, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) securing a majority, albeit narrower than expected. The Bernstein report anticipates an increased emphasis on direct social schemes to address voter concerns, especially in rural areas where the BJP experienced significant losses.

Despite potential policy shifts, the capex cycle is expected to be driven more by the private sector, mitigating risks to overall economic growth.

The government's role in capex is likely to moderate over time, with private sector investments becoming more prominent.

India's economic growth has traditionally been investment-led, with government initiatives playing a key role, while consumption has lagged.

The result outcome has significant implications for India's policy direction and market dynamics.

Despite the BJP falling short of an absolute majority, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is poised to form the government with support from its pre-poll allies.

The BJP's tally stands at 242 seats, below the 272 needed for a majority, making them reliant on allies to maintain power. The NDA, collectively, leads in 294 seats, ensuring a return of the incumbent government.

This coalition dynamic suggests a continuation of existing policies, as there are no major contentious issues within the alliance.

However, the political landscape remains fluid, and any shift in alliances could significantly alter the investment climate in India, though such a scenario is currently deemed unlikely.

While the BJP has maintained a pro-growth, investment-focused manifesto, the electoral setback might prompt the government to adjust its policies.

Employment creation remains a challenge, particularly in agriculture, where an increase in workforce has not translated into higher productivity.

The government's strategy of promoting manufacturing and construction is seen as a long-term solution to these issues.

However, addressing rural distress and implementing structural reforms, such as the contentious farm bills, are critical challenges.

The report does not foresee dramatic changes in Minimum Support Price (MSP) policies or substantial increases in government employment. While there may be short-term inflationary impacts from minor MSP adjustments, significant shifts are unlikely.

The continuity of power provides a stable backdrop for economic growth, though the focus might shift slightly towards subsidies at the expense of capex.

Maintaining market stance, expecting high single-digit returns with the Nifty target unchanged at 23,500. Market volatility is anticipated due to policy uncertainty. Financials remain a key overweight (OW) sector, with selective picks across other sectors, remaining underweight (UW) on small and mid-cap stocks (SMIDs) relative to large caps.

The recent market sell-off appears overdone, suggesting room for a modest rebound, particularly in capex-linked stocks.

Indian voters have once again shown their unpredictability, challenging the expectations of a larger majority for the BJP. As of the latest trends, the NDA holds 294 seats, while the opposition INDIA alliance is at 201.

The BJP's performance in rural areas, where they lost 70 seats, highlights significant rural and farm distress. Private consumption growth is at a 21-year low, indicating the need for more effective policies to boost the rural economy.

With agriculture being a crucial sector, the government may opt for moderate MSP increases to support farmers. However, a major policy shift is unlikely.

Normal monsoons are expected to ease immediate pressures on rural incomes. Loan waivers, another contentious issue, are expected to remain a state-level decision rather than a national policy.

There are concerns about a potential shift towards populist subsidies, which could impact short-term inflation and fiscal discipline.

However, the medium-term growth story for India remains intact, supported by ongoing cycles in key sectors. The extent of policy adjustments will become clearer after the new government outlines its 100-day agenda.

The report retain a cautious yet positive market outlook, with modest returns expected this year. The focus remains on financials, telecom, healthcare, and durable goods, with selective investments in technology, underweighting on consumer staples and discretionary sectors, excluding autos.

Capex-driven stocks are preferred, though valuation concerns persist.

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