World's biggest election begins in India
The world's biggest democratic exercise- the general elections in India- began on Monday with six Lok Sabha constituencies in two northeastern states undergoing polling, heralding a nine-phase parliamentary elections till May 12 in which the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress is challenged by a determined Hindu nationalist BJP that has named Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its PM candidate.
The two states going to polls are Assam and Tripura in the Northeast. On Monday, voters are deciding the fate of 51 candidates for five of the 14 seats in Assam.
Polling is being held in one of Tripura's two seats on Monday.
After Apr 7, voting will be held on Apr 9, Apr 10, Apr 12, Apr 17, Apr 24, Apr 30, May 7 and May 12 across a total of 543 parliamentary constituencies.
Counting will take place on May 16. The term of 15th Lok Sabha expires on May 31.
A total of 814 million people are eligible to cast their votes this year in which the Congress, that became unpopular owing to several financial scandals, is facing a tough challenge from Modi, who has been pitched as a strong leader with a proven track record in his state Gujarat by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spearheading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has announced Modi as their PM candidate long before, Congress did not name its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, heir to the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty, as their official PM candidate though the fight is clearly between him and the Gujarat strongman who however continues to battle the ghosts of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots while seeking his acceptability among all forces and communities.
Modi is ahead of Gandhi in polls but still it is not going to be a cakewalk for the NDA.
The emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by its leader Arvind Kejriwal who has pitched his umbrella outfit of anti-corruption crusaders and social activists, as a true representative of the common people (as the nomenclature itself suggests) , is a new factor in Indian politics too and it can offer a real challenge to the mighty national and regional parties having won polls in the national capital earlier.
There is also talks of a Third Front in India sans BJP or Congress but there is no clear shape of that grouping yet.
Several regional parties like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee´s Trinamool Congress can also play significant role after the results if the UPA or the NDA fails to obtain clear majority.
(Posted on 07-04-2014)