Largest Election in History Starts in North East India
The largest election in the history of democracy commenced its arduous nine-phase process in the Himalayan foothills of northeastern India, with Narendra Modi’s opposition party poised to win the most seats as it looks to regain power after a decade.
Assam and Manipur will also went to the polls on Monday, 7 April. The elections are scheduled from 7 April to 12 May. Counting of votes will be on 16 May.
About 815 million voters, roughly the populations of the U.S. and European Union combined, are eligible to cast ballots in nine rounds of voting over the next five weeks to pick 543 lawmakers. Results will be known on May 16 in the nation of 1.2 billion people, where some two-thirds live on about $2 per day.
“People are restless for growth and development,” said Jai Mrug, an independent political analyst in Mumbai who conducts opinion polling. “India’s image, progress and economy have been hampered due to a lack of decision making.”
India’s stocks and currency have rallied in recent weeks on the prospect that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party will form a stable coalition and revive Asia’s third-biggest economy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress party has seen its popularity fall as graft cases, Asia’s fastest inflation and subdued economic growth erode support.
Global funds pumped $11 billion into Indian debt and equities this year, on optimism the new government will revive growth that slowed to a decade-low in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. The rupee gained 3.2 percent last quarter, its best performance since 2012, and the S&P BSE Sensex index of shares rose to a record on April 2. Bond risk for India has fallen in 2014.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi are desperately canvassing countrywide in an attempt to arrest the hemorrhaging of support. Both are attacking BJP’s “divisive” politics and the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, when Modi was the CM.
Acclaimed former BBC foreign correspondent and author, Mark Tully when speaking to The Global Calcuttan Magazine in February told us that as long as the Congress Party can frame the debate as being Secularism vs. Communalism, they may manage to stay afloat. “But it’s a tenuous tactic. People aren’t so gullible having experienced five years of reasonably calm and responsible government with the BJP at the helm, followed by a decade of scandal and economic slide under Congress.”
“If anything, unless you’re a diehard Congresswallah, those concerned about Modi are more likely to vote for an alternative like the AAP,” Mr.Tully told us.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a new entrant in this general election. AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal is also campaigning nationwide on the plank of the party’s fight against corruption.
Apart from Congress, BJP and AAP, regional parties like AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu, TDP, TRS and YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, Bodoland Peoples Front, Asom Gana Parishad, Janata Dal (United), RJD and Lok Janashakti Party in Bihar are also contesting.
On Monday, 7 April, five constituencies in Assam and one constituency in Manipur will go to polls. The five constituencies in Assam are Tezpur, Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tripura West constituency. In these constituencies, campaigning had come to an end on Sunday and candidates were seen doing door-to-door canvassing.
Following is the state-wise polling schedule during April and May 2014.
Andhra Pradesh: 30 April, 7 May
Arunachal Pradesh: 9 April
Assam: 7, 12, 24 April
Bihar: 10, 17, 24, 30, April and 7, 12 May
Chhattisgarh: 10, 17, 24 April
Goa: 17 April
Gujarat: 30 April
Haryana: 10 April
Himachal Pradesh: 7 May
Jammu and Kashmir: 10, 17, 24, 30 April and 7 May
Jharkhand: 10, 17, 24 April
Karnataka: 17 April
Kerala: 10 April
Madhya Pradesh:10, 17, 24 April
Maharashtra: 10, 17, 24 April
Manipur: 9, 17 April
Meghalaya: 9 April
Mizoram: 9 April
Nagaland: 9 April
Odisha: 10, 17 April
Punjab: 30 April
Rajasthan: 17, 24 April
Sikkim: 12 April
Tamil Nadu: 24 April
Tripura: 7, 12 April
Uttar Pradesh: 10, 17, 24, 30, April and 7, 12 May
Uttarakhand: 7 May
West Bengal: 17, 24, 30 April and 7, 12 May
Andaman and Nicobar Islands: 10 April
Chandigarh: 10 April
Dadra and Nagar Haveli: 30 April
Daman and Diu: 30 April
Lakshadweep: 10 April
NCT/Delhi: 10 April
Puducherry: 24 April