India elections: World’s largest democracy to decide future

INDIA: AS the scramble for the 543 seats in the Lower House of the Indian parliament nears its conclusion, the nation of 1.45 billion awaits the decisive results on June 4, which will decide the next Prime Minister.

This intense election process in seven phases, spanning over two months, has seen waves of voter turnout across the country, with the capital, Delhi, casting its vote in phase 6. The Indian general election is a spectacle of democracy in action, with nearly 744 political parties contesting, making it the largest political contest globally.

In the grand elections, 4,440 candidates represent various parties, while an additional 3,920 individuals are running as independent candidates. This brings the total number of candidates to 8,360, the highest in 28 years.

Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and several other political parties from 10 countries were invited by the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party to witness the elections in India. Commenting on this, Dr. Suvrokamal Dutta, a New Delhi based conservative political economic expert remarked: “The sending of the political party representatives including Tanzania ‘s CCM representatives for getting an understanding of the nature as well as the complexities of the Indian Parliamentary Elections, speaks in volumes about the deep rooted and strong relationship of India with those countries including Tanzania.

It also shows how important is Indian democracy and its value to the world.” Indian elections are marked by a dual dynamic in voter behavior, reflecting the electorate’s discernment and adaptability.

Electorates often show distinct preferences for different parties in provincial and national elections. This phenomenon sees voters choosing one party for state-level governance and another for national leadership, ensuring that their local needs are met while also supporting a broader vision for the nation’s prospects.

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In India, there are several regional parties other than national parties like Narendra Damodardas Modi’s BJP and its rival Congress. Voters choose regional parties to prioritize local issues, regional identity, and immediate concerns affecting their daily lives mostly.

The performance of the incumbent in addressing these local issues, the charisma and track record of regional leaders, and the party’s stance on state-specific policies heavily influence voter choices.

Regional parties or state-specific factions of national parties often fare better in these elections because they are perceived as more attuned to the unique needs and aspirations of the state’s populace.

For instance, in States like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Telangana, regional parties like the DMK, TMC, and TRS have a strong foothold due to their focus on regional issues and identity.

In the comparatively developed Southern States, BJP doesn’t have much popularity like that of Hindiheartland states like Uttar Pradesh. The Hindutva Politics of BJP doesn’t work in Southern and North Eastern states (provinces) of India.

However, the party is confident of its economic and administrative management over the past decade. Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal launched a sharp attack on PM Narendra Modi after being released on bail in a corruption case.

The BJP is accused of putting several leaders behind bars and targeting opposition leaders. There are also dissatisfaction over unemployment and price hikes of essential commodities.

The opposition parties have created a block to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP but the opposition’s credibility will be tested in this election.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed its highest poll participation in the last 35 years, a remarkable testament to the people’s engagement and trust in the democratic process.

As the world closely watches Kashmir, the impressive voter turnout signals a renewed faith in India’s governance following the abrogation of Article 370 (special status). As PM Narendra Modi seeks a third consecutive term, India’s opposition parties are making a concerted effort to unseat him.

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Tensions, anxiety, and curiosity over the election are pervasive in every election but 2024 elections are very different from the 2014 and 2019 elections. Unlike many other countries, where the number of contesting parties is relatively small—71 in the UK, 57 in the US, and 47 in Germany—India’s political sphere is vastly more diverse.

As the world’s largest democracy heads toward the electoral process, the global community watches closely, eager to see how the verdict will shape India’s future.

The outcome will not only determine India’s leadership but also influence its socioeconomic trajectory and its role on the regional and global stage. The writer is an Indian journalist and Foreign Affairs scholar

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