India's IT minister defeated in bid for lower house seat

Probably won't cost him his job, meaning India's messy tech to-do list remains his problem

India's Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has lost his bid for election to the lower house of India's parliament, the Lok Sabha

Chandrasekhar expressed that the outcome was "disappointing" but that he had run a "very positive campaign."

He remains a member of the Rajya Sabha – the Indian equivalent of the US Senate – and that position is unlikely to be immediately affected. Members of the Rajya Sabha are chosen by state legislatures and India's president. Chandrasekhar's current term is scheduled to conclude in June 2026 – however there is no limit to number of terms one can serve in the upper house of India's Parliament.

"We did not get into the temptation of divisive-ism or lies like our competitors did," alleged the defeated candidate.

Just hours before the election results were announced, the minister reportedly suggested his opponent should start a new career as proprietor of an English training institute. He also suggested another opposition politician, an especially fierce critic of prime minister Narendra Modi, should "start a gym."

At the time, exit polls had shown Chandrasekhar leading.

The tech minister has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and a masters in computer science. He was once part of Intel's architectural team for the i486 processor.

Chandrasekhar's appointment as IT minister in fellow BJP member Modi’s cabinet came in 2021. The minister was a key figure in the extension of the Make In India campaign – an initiative launched in 2014 by Modi to boost domestic manufacturing by offering subsidies - into electronics and semiconductors.

Companies like Apple have bought into the schemes, often lured to India as much as pushed away from China due to supply chain concerns.

There have been fiascos along the way associated with the effort – such as licensing requirements for PCs and other tech kit that were introduced without notice and alienated foreign investors.

A fresh Telecommunications Bill also ran late, and when it finally passed it peculiarly included no mention of social media.

The government's tech agenda for this term includes the Digital India Bill, a law that will replace a current statute that doesn't even mention the internet, which has run late and proved difficult to draft. India also awaits further AI regulation, continues attempts to tame social media, is conducting numerous anti-trust cases against Big Tech companies, and has only just begun efforts to expand high-tech manufacturing.

The tenure of a minister appointed from the Rajya Sabha typically coincides with the tenure of the government they serve. However, losing any election is seldom a good sign – it may signal diminished political stature or effectiveness, and could cause leaders to rethink appointments.

Like Chandrasekhar, prime minister Narendra Modi is a member of the BJP. Modi has claimed victory to his re-election, even as his party overall lost seats and influence – a result that may make bills even harder to pass.

With Modi still in place, it seems Chandrasekhar may have lost some prestige, but there are few indications he will not continue as IT minister.®

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