What you need to know about India's general election

India- India's general election, which kicked off on Friday, will see nearly 1 billion voters deciding whether incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can secure a third term in office. He is facing a challenge from an alliance of around two dozen opposition parties, namely the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), led by the main opposition Indian National Congress, which has deep roots in most regions of the South Asian country. THE ELECTION The Indian parliament consists of two houses, namely the Lok Sabha, or House of the People, and the Rajya Sabha, or Council of States. In the coming election, voters cast ballots for 543 of the 545 seats of the Lok Sabha while the remaining two are nominated by the president. Elections for the Lok Sabha take place every five years, under a first-past-the-post system, where voters cast a vote for a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins the election. The party or coalition winning the majority of seats will form a government. Officials said more than 960 million citizens are eligible to vote at over 1 million polling stations across the world's most populous country. Approximately 15 million polling officials and security staff will be deployed. The elections will last until June 1, spanning seven phases, with the results announced on June 4. The expenditure associated with the elections is substantial. According to the Delhi-based Center for Media Studies, the 2019 general election cost 8.6 billion U.S. dollars and this year's cost is estimated to surpass 1.2 trillion rupees (14.4 billion dollars).


Modi assumed office as prime minister in 2014 and was re-elected in 2019, where the BJP won by a huge margin, securing 282 and 303 seats respectively. The BJP and its allies aim to win over 400 seats in the upcoming election. Despite India's economic achievements in the past decade, some media outlets and experts believe that the actual economic performance was not as good as the government claimed, and the benefits of development have not truly reached the lower strata of society. The "Make in India" initiative, proposed by the Modi government in 2014, aims to boost the manufacturing sector's contribution to India's economic growth from 16 percent in 2015 to 25 percent by 2022, which in reality dropped to 13 percent. This led to persistently high unemployment rates in the country. A pre-poll survey by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies found that over half of the 10,019 respondents expressed worry about price increases and job scarcity, as reported by the Hindustan Times. Indian farmers have been protesting in the past months, demanding a law to guarantee a minimum price for crops, farmers' pensions, and debt waiver, among others.


The main opposition Indian National Congress has held power for an extended period in Indian history yet has suffered a huge defeat against the BJP in the 2014 general election with Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate. In 2023, 26 opposition parties formed the INDIA coalition. In March, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in INDIA, was arrested by the federal government's financial crimes agency on charges of corruption. He has denied any wrongdoing and said his arrest was politically motivated. The BJP denied the allegation. Several opposition leaders have been imprisoned, questioned, or had cases filed against them by federal agencies in the past year, which triggered protests from opposition parties and civic groups. In March, the Congress party accused the federal government of using the tax department to cut their funding for elections.

Source: RSS