World’s Largest Democratic Excercise Commences
This week India will go to polls in the world’s largest-ever democratic exercise which consists of close to 850 million eligible voters across the country including 130 million first time voters. To accommodate such a grand endeavour, the elections will be conducted in seven phases between April 11th and May 19th with the results being tabulated and announced on the 23rd of May.
On election day, a verdict will be cast about the performance of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) performance. Despite recent tensions with Pakistan, and the presence of sustained violence against religious minorities and other marginalized communities, the economy is expected to be the major issue.
The BJP- led National Democratic Alliance will go up against a somewhat unified “grand alliance” of parties, amongst which the Indian National Congress (INC) plays a significant role. While some suggest that the grand alliance is the only way to defeat the BJP, the varying interests, ideologies and historical relationships of each party is already showing cracks with the INC refuses to finalize several necessary alliances.
Even about a year ago the BJP returning to power was considered inevitable. However, with a resurgent INC winning in three vital state elections in December, allegations of corruption through the Rafale Deal, and the lingering economic issues such as unemployment, farmer’s distress, etc, the BJP return to power was questioned. However, after recent skirmishes with Pakistan, the BJP regained some of its support and is predicted to win.
A recent poll conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies- Lokniti shows that the BJP is expected to win between 222 and 232 seats of the 545-member house. They will do this with a 35 per cent vote share. The INC is predicted to win between to win between 74 and 84 seats with a 23 per cent vote share. The same poll suggests that the BJP-led NDA alliance might still not be able to secure the 272 seats needed to form the government and will need outside support.
Image Credit: CC by Narendra Modi Elections/ Wikimedia Commons