An election spread over 42 days with 550 Mn people (66% of eligible voters), 930,000 polling booths, more than a 1000 parties, 545 seats and approximately $6 Bn spent.
These elections come at time when India is going through huge changes. The economy has slowed down from its heady days of 9% growth to around 5% growth.
The current coalition government headed by congress was mired in scandals
and policy paralysis
. The demographic dividend has resulted in a large number of youth participating
Framed as the biggest elections in human history, John Oliver had a great segment
Due to a quirk of law, while the rules bar candidates from spending more than 120K
in one constituency, the parties are free to spend as much as they want. this has resulted in allegations of huge amounts of money
being used to influence voters. While no major party provides the details or sources of their expenses, it is estimated that one major party had spent close to $850 Mn
for advertising itself, leave aside other expenses on political rallies, transportation, and even payment to voters.
The focus of these elections was around the opposition Hindu nationalist party, BJP
's leader, Narendra Modi
. He has been leading the state of Gujarat for past 12 years. But he is also tainted by allegations of encouraging or enabling the 2002 riots in his state
where approximately 1200 muslims were killed. He has steadfastly refused to accept that he made any mistakes during the riots
, which many have termed as pogroms and alleged participation of government
. One of his ministers has been convicted
for encouraging the rioteers.
These elections saw a high intensity extensive campaign
in his attempt to connect with everyone. he was also the focus of one of the biggest advertising campaigns in Indian election history. From using backdrops worth $5 Mn to 3D holograms of his speeches to continuous advertisement on TV and print media
, many allege
that he has created a nexus with big corporate donors who are backing him by providing the money needed to fund such a large and expensive campaign.
Modi is fighting on the plank of development
, getting more jobs. Although opponents claim that its all a cover
for his attempts to polarize voters along religious lines.
BJP has formed government once earlier for 5 years
. In a major departure from Indian policy, it conducted nuclear tests
. It was also at the edge of two wars
The other big story of this politics is the expected huge loss of Indian National Congress
, which has ruled for majority of 67 years that India has been free. The party has depended mainly on the Nehru-gandhi family and this time Rahul Gandhi (no relation to the famous Mohandas Gandhi) is leading the charge. A loss would put a lot of pressure on his leadership
A 3rd interesting
but small entrant to Indian politics is Aam Admi Party
. In a country where elections have been fought on the basis of caste and religious equations, dependence on black money and known criminals to get votes, the party has made public any donation that it has received
. It has focused on corruption as an issue and has campaigned on removing corruption
. It has also avoided having anyone with criminal antecedents as candidate. It won a surprising number of seats in recent delhi elections
and was even able to form a minority govt for 49 days, when the govt fell as it tried to bring in a strong anti-corruption law. The party has put up its candidates in 426 out of 543 seats, maximum of any party and more than the two established major parties BJP and congress
. In a show of electoral audacity, the party put up its top leaders against the Prime ministerial candidates of both major parties, BJP and Congress. Though exit polls expected AAP to lose both contests
, the party has been able to use the situation to its advantage in gaining a lot of media attention
. If they achieve even moderate success in these elections, it might lead to a large change in political discourse
There are a lot of regional parties in the fray as well
. Most of these parties are built on regional, lingual or cast liines. Past 15 years have seen coalition govts and regional parties have been vital in the government formation. BJP, which is expected to form the govt has 28 allies already
and is looking for additional allies
. The process of cementing alliances is going to be very interesting and engrossing once the results are announced.
If Modi lead BJP comes into power, it might lead to significant changes in India's defense
and foreign policy
. Modi has promised to be tougher on Pakistan
and terrorists, even advocating hot pursuits of terrorists into Pakistan's territory.
BJP is also expected to provide corporate friendly policies
and chances of its governance has lead to huge increases in the stock indices
as well as scrips of companies considered close to Modi
The election results, to be announced in a few hours, are available at various places
where you might follow it on the web.