The Indian elections: a summary

The ‘Lok Sabha’ Indian election is a giant electoral undertaking – the largest in the world’s democratic history

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Summary:

The ‘Lok Sabha’ Indian election is a giant electoral undertaking – the largest in the world’s democratic history – with 15 million polling staff (many trekking for miles by foot and hoof to collect votes), 1 million polling stations (largely located in remote villages, hills, deserts and conflict zones) and almost 1 billion voters. S. Jaishankar – who is India’s top diplomat – called the election the “largest electoral logistics exercise that this planet has ever witnessed.”

 

The Lok Sabha, or House of the People, is the lower house of India’s bicameral – two assemblies – Parliament. Elections to this house are crucial as they determine the central government and the Prime Minister.

Who is competing?

 

The ruling party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is vying for its third term after almost a decade in power. Modi is single, devoutly religious and patriotic, has no family, works day and night, and is considered to be one of the world’s most popular politicians because of the quasi-saint like persona he has constructed for himself. Modi is harnessing the power found in this cult of personality to drive on a centuries-old project of remodeling India as a Hindu nation.  A BJP win is looking likely, especially with Modi’s strategic tactics of spreading his influence and Hindu nationalism ideology globally by embracing the 18 million strong Indian diaspora.

 

According to a flurry of exit polls released last night (Saturday the 2nd of June), Modi and his Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) can expect a strong, decisive win, with up to a two-thirds majority in parliament, allowing far reaching amendments to the constitution.If Modi wins, he will have achieved an unprecedented feat as no prime minister in independent India has won three straight Lok Sabha elections with increased votes each time. 

 

Modi’s opposition is constituted of a group of more than 28 political outfits – abbreviated INDIA (the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance). The BJP party is largely associated with and based on command and control, whilst the Congress party remains unstructured and centered around cooperation and co-creation.In his campaign, Modi employed fearmongering tactique to dismiss the opposition as a conspiracy with the sole intention of benefiting Muslims, whom he referred to as “infiltrators”. 

As part of his campaign, Gandhi – the leading politician in the opposition party – walked through different states interacting with stakeholders across the board to discuss their issues. He is driven as much by a desire to create a better country as by a fear of Modi’s attempt to “stifle the democratic structures of India”.

 

Controversies

 

One of the few who dared to voice dissent is an Indian youtuber – Dhruv Rathee – who branded this election the most unfair in Indian history, claiming that  “Opposition leaders have been put in jail, anyone who stands up to the BJP is harassed by the state or by police and the BJP has been given free rein to violate all the election rules and stir up hatred. There’s nothing fair about it.”

 

The election

 

Regarding the election itself, an estimated 969 million people were registered to vote, with most ballots being cast using electronic voting machines ((EVMs) which were first introduced and used in 2004). Voting closed on the 1st of June.

 

Counting of votes will begin at 8am (02:30 GMT) tomorrow (Tuesday, June 4).

Initial trends and results are expected to be announced shortly after the counting begins, with the final results likely by tomorrow evening or the morning of the 5th.

 

How are votes counted? The facts

  • EVMs are sealed and stored after voting ends.
  • On the counting day, all of the EVMs will be unsealed in the presence of party representatives.
  • The process starts with postal ballots, followed by EVM votes 30 minutes later.
  • Votes are counted in designated halls with 14 tables per hall, and results are written on a blackboard.
  • Additional tables or locations can be set up with ECI’s permission.
  • Votes are tallied by counting supervisors and assistants appointed randomly by the RO.
  • The control unit’s “Results” button displays the vote count for each candidate.

 

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