STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

World's Largest Democracy All Set for Lok Sabha Battle

The nine-phase polling that will end May 12 begins with voting in five of 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Congress-ruled Assam and one of the two in Left-held Tripura in the northeast Monday. 

Published: 06th April 2014 06:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th April 2014 06:33 PM   |  A+A-

BJP.jpgStaggered parliamentary election to decide who will get to govern India the next five years starts at 7 a.m. Monday, with the BJP, voted out 10 years ago, widely seen as having the upper hand.

The nine-phase polling that will end May 12 begins with voting in five of 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Congress-ruled Assam and one of the two in Left-held Tripura in the northeast Monday. 

The nationwide vote count will take place May 16.

The massive exercise will involve 814 million electorate, with 120-150 million first-time voters, hundreds of candidates -- nominations are still being filed -- and dozens of political parties all over the country. 

A political pundit Sunday hailed the once-in-five-years parliamentary battle.

"Any election that India has seen has been an important exercise because nowhere so many people go out and vote together," political expert Mridula Mukherjee told IANS.

"It is a significant event in democratic experiment because all the elections have seen power being handed over from one hand to another, and smoothly," the academic said.

Congress.jpgAlthough fingers are still crossed on whether the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will secure a majority in the 545-member Lok Sabha, the Congress and its shrunken United Progressive Alliance (UPA) which has ruled India since 2004 look bruised.

Exploiting popular disgust vis-a-vis the Congress-led government, BJP's prime ministerial candidate and Hindutva icon Narendra Modi has been leading his party's charge asking people to elect at least 300 MPs from his coalition.

Ranged against both the UPA and NDA are regional parties with devoted pockets of support such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (Uttar Pradesh), Biju Janata Dal (Orissa), the DMK and AIADMK (Tamil Nadu), the Trinamool Congress (West Bengal) and the Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (Bihar). All of them could play a major role in the event of another hung parliament. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party is supremely confident. "We are very sure the BJP will alone get up to 250 seats," its spokesman Prakash Javadekar told IANS. He felt the NDA tally might touch "290 or so".

Any party or coalition will need 272 seats to form a government.

The Congress feels that pollsters predicting its defeat will be proved wrong again -- as it happened in the 2004 and 2009 elections.

"The UPA will surprise everyone," spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told IANS. "With our known allies and a few others, we will easily form the government."

Analyst Mukherjee pointed out that one key factor in this election was the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) -- which is ranged against everyone else.

"It is a new political phenomenon where an anti-corruption movement has become a party," she said. "It is a party with a different background with all kinds of people in it."

AAP logo.JPGThe AAP, which ruled Delhi for 49 days until Feb 14, has pitted its leader Arvind Kejriwal against Modi in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

Political analyst Pradip Dutta admitted that the BJP had a much larger lead over the Congress but added that he does not see "a Modi wave" talked about in the media.

"The BJP should not take its victory for granted," Dutta told IANS. 

Another political analyst, Badri Narayan Tiwari, added: "The BJP won't get a clear majority."

Since he was made head of the BJP election campaign, Modi, still the Gujarat chief minister, has grown and grown, becoming the main focus point in the election.

The 63-year-old has hoisted his aggressive persona on a party which for decades believed in collective leadership. He has attempted to give up his Hindu hardliner image without giving up Hindutva politics.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp