In response to many queries on my last article which you and
many other overseas friends raised, here is an overview that
provides the big picture of the elections: 'The ABC of Indian
The current Indian elections from 7 April
to 12 May seem to be very complicated.
A humungous exercise.
What with 814 million voters, including 100 million first
time voters, voting on 1.4 million Electronic Voting Machines in
930,000 polling stations with eleven million police and security
officers, this is the biggest election in the world to elect 543
members from 35 states to the lower house of parliament.
Any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a
India has over 700 political parties but only three matter at
the national level:
Aam Admi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) and the Indian National Congress (Cong) parties.
So it’s as simple as ABC.
The other regional parties come into play to cobble a
coalition if a single party fails to get the magical number of
Politicians are expected to spend $5 billion in
electioneering as visible in mammoth rallies, TV and print ads,
billboards, web promotion and every conceivable marketing ploy
from video conferencing to applying party symbols as henna on
A crucial vote bank is 24 million voters aged 18 to 19
polling for the first time.
AAP, the new kid on the block, founded in November 2012 to
fight corruption, provide good governance and clean up the
Led by Arvind Kejriwal, an IT graduate and former Income Tax
Commissioner, AAP swept into power in the Delhi State elections
in December 2013. After lightening reforms, AAP resigned within
two months when its anti-corruption bill ran into problems.
Moved up to national level to fight general elections, AAP
provides a viable alternative to the other two national and
AAP has almost nil chances of forming the government but
even if AAP gets 40 to 50 seats, it will be very effective
as the opposition and will not allow any deals smelling of
It has generated huge support from the silent middle
class and also the poor who have been handed a raw deal.
Beyond religious divide, AAP is for good governance.
BJP, the main opposition in the last parliament, was in the
doldrums until the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendera Modi,
was declared its prime ministerial candidate in June 2012.
An impressive orator, Modi has provided efficient government,
increased investment and all round progress in Gujarat for the
last 15 years after winning three state elections.
The Congress accuses him of involvement in 2002 Hindu-Muslim
riots but the courts and the Special Investigation Team found
him 'Not Guilty'.
Moreover, no riots have happened since then while other
states have had up to 150 riots. Still, the Congress persists to
hit him with this stick which does not stick.
He promises strong government with overall progress Gujarat
This state registered ten per cent economic growth, one per
cent unemployment, 100 per cent electric and water supply round
the year to all and 15 per cent per capita growth, among other
Considered Pro-Hindu, the BJP reaches out to Muslims.
after ten years of rule, the economic
growth has slumped from almost ten per cent to less than
five per cent.
Plus, huge scams involving government ministers and other
No pro-active action by the government in the last three
years to boost the economy, fight high prices and
Led by 43-year old Rahul Gandhi, the son of the late Prime
Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the President of the Congress, the
Italian Sonia Gandhi, and the Congress has ruled for most of 60
years of India’s independence.
But now, it faces the people’s anger for high prices,
corruption, unemployment and lack of governance and
Considered Pro-Muslim, the Congress promotes its secular
So which party is likely to form the next government?
Most likely, BJP because it is now seen as Modi.
He may not get 272 seats but even if he gets over 200, he
can rope in some regional parties and independent candidates
to forge a coalition government.
Unlike the last coalition government that generated a weak
government, Modi will dominate his partners and threaten them
with another election to return with greater majority if they do
not fall in line.
After the 2002 riots, the anti-Modi lobby in the west, and
especially the western media, started a campaign against him on
human rights issues and succeeded in USA and UK not granting him
a visa to address overseas Indians, especially Gujaratis.