In April and May 2004, India went to the polls. Against all expectations, the ruling National Democratic Alliance did not win the election, but was replaced by a Congress party-led coalition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The defeat was quite dramatic. Of the 543 seats in the Indian Lok Sabha, the NDA succeeded in capturing only 185 seats (from its previous 274), while the UPA (excluding the Left parties who support the government from outside) won 217 seats (from its previous meager 151). As soon as the verdict was announced, it was interpreted as a vote against the NDA’s policies: its divisive communal policies pursued particularly in Gujarat but also elsewhere; its education policy of rewriting textbooks on India’s history; its economic reform policies. This last interpretation was quite prominent. It was argued that the 2004 verdict should be seen as the vote of the rural poor against the urban-biased economic development model pursued by the NDA and several reform-oriented State governments