India decided?

The closely contested gigantic electoral exercise came to an end with the seventh phase on May 19. In the parliamentary history of India, the current election was most widely spread out with over 39 days (April 11-May 19) with interplays diverse undercurrents. Touted as the world’s largest democratic election exercise, the bitterly contested election officially had 897.811 million (897811627) on electoral rolls and held in 1.25 million (1035919) polling stations across India.


Out of these total voters, over 15 million (15064824) were the youth in the age – group 18-19 yrs, or first time voters including 1, 91, 71 in Nagaland. The process will conclude on May 23 when counting of votes will be taken up and the fates of representatives to 17th Lok Sabha of Indian would be decided.


To form the government, a party or an alliance needs the supports of 272 elected members, in the 545-member lower house of Parliament also christened as the House of the People, where 543 members are directly elected and two members from the Anglo-Indian Community are nominated by the President of India.


In 2014, it was conducted in 9 phases from April 7-May 12 by the Election Commission of India, where Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janata Party had won 282 seats, handing a crushing defeat to 10-year-rule of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress, in the so-called ‘Modi Wave.’


With the embargoes on exit polls ending on May 19 with the completion of the seventh phase, the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is predicted to returns for the second innings.


There is a general consensus that the NDA would attain majority, while some exit polls even show an emphatic victory of nearly 300 seats for the ruling alliance. Experts may hanker over the reliability of such exits polls, however, the prediction of a common trend clearly implies a big win for the NDA, which the official results will either affirm or disprove on May 23. If the exits polls are affirmed by the official results, there are profound take aways from the poll, having significant ramification for the future.


Among others, the politics of rhetoric based on nationalism and religious polarisation would continue to influence Indian polity in the future, while the journey into majoritarianism democracy enters into a new phase in India.


Most importantly, whether the opposition would agree or not, it establishes that Modi is a formidable force to be reckoned with, clearly scripting the winning narratives and connecting with the masses. A shabby disjoint opposition is no match to challenge the ‘wave.’


Electioneering process in India, due to its magnitude and geography, is a complex process. The interplay of both religious and caste factors complicate the matters. The ECI, which oversees and regulate the whole mammoth process, should be lauded for managing the colossal task, devoid of any major violence or untoward incidents.


Notwithstanding these achievements, however, several questions were raised regarding the implementation of the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ (MCC), which binds the electioneering process. The concerns over electronic voting machines (EVMs) also persist. As India, presumably, enters into new uncharted territory in her over 70 years of parliamentary democracy, it is the institutional legacy, integrity and independence that will act as a restorative and countervailing force that would ensure continuity of vibrant Indian democracy.