The world’s largest democratic election began last week on the 11th of April and will end on the 19th of May. The lengthy timeframe in which the election occurs is necessary because of the sheer size of the operation, with over 900 million votes needing to be counted in 36 states and territories and 91 constituencies. This election determines how many of the 543 seats each party will be elected to hold in the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament.
India’s 2019 election has been dominated by a variety of topics and individuals, among these are the usual; the economy, jobs and unemployment. But, other key issues have also become mainstream and contentious, such as the BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party’s), the current ruling party, policies and rhetoric that have left many in India feeling like the country is now more divided, especially along religious lines.
Also, India’s position on the world stage has become a mainstream topic as many debate whether it should be playing a larger role or not. But, what can we expect to see during and after India’s 2019 election?
The election campaigns within India differ slightly from the ones we see here in Australia. In India it’s strictly illegal to campaign along religious lines or to incite violence in anyway. And one particular party leader has already breached this policy. Mayawati, leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, breached it and was banned from campaigning for 48 hours.
It’s also become quite common to see candidates and party’s campaigning for particular sects of voters, especially along caste lines. Candidates, during speeches, will often act in a much more emotional and passionate ad-lib manner, something that differs from the well-versed, rehearsed, status-quo speeches we’re used to in Australia.
India’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his ruling party are hoping to remain in power especially after winning a landslide victory in 2014.
But, Modi and the BJP face a significant number of challenges. The Congress Party, led my Rahul Gandhi (the direct descendant of three previous Prime Ministers) poses a significant threat, as do popular regional parties that are stripping the BJP of voters. And, in response, the BJP have continued with the same campaign direction as in 2014 and staked their hopes of re-election on Modi’s steadfast image and tough stance. Especially in the wake of another deadly conflict with Pakistan, in which Modi attempted to embody a very robust and ‘tough’ manner that wouldn’t back down from a fight.
Although the BJP’s promises of higher economic growth and more job creation have yet to manifest themselves in the way they claimed they would. Which has caused a lot of disenfranchisement among its supporters. Modi will most likely be re-elected as most polls show that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) possesses the largest amount of support.
But, despite winning only 44 seats in the 2014 election, the congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has proved to be a real contender as its popularity has grown significantly. So much so, that the BJP will most likely only maintain a majority of seats with the support of other parties and be unable to maintain its current single party house majority. Either way, India and many other countries wait in anticipation for the votes to be counted and results released on the 23rd of May.