India is the World’s biggest democracy. The history of parliamentary democracy in our neighbour is much more mature as compared to our’s. India has bicameral legislature. It consists of Upper House (Rajya Sabha) and a Lower house (Lok Sabha). Indian elections for 543 Lok Sabha seats are slated to be held in seven phases from 11th April to 19th May. 23rd May is THE DAY when counting of all votes polled will be held and it will be announced that who will rule the country of 1.3 billion people for the next five years.
The main competition is between two alliances , the conservative NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the more progressive UPA (United Progressive Alliance). The NDA comprises of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) as the major partner along with different regional parties as partners such as Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Janata Dal (United) of Nitish Kumar in Bihar, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu to name a few. Whereas UPA has INC( Indian National Congress) as the big brother and different regional parties such as DMK in Tamil Nadu, NCP of Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra, Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka and RJD in Bihar among many others.
Now let’s take a look at the number game, which matters the most. 272 is the magic number required to form the government at national level in the house of 543 seats representing as many constituencies. The most populous state of India namely UP (Uttar Pradesh) which has population almost equal to that of Pakistan sends most, 80 MPs to the legislative assembly. Other significant states in the context of number games are Maharashtra, West Bengal( in the East), Bihar and Tamil Nadu(down south) which send 48,42,40 and 39 seats respectively.
In the previous Lok Sabha elections that took place in 2014, the grand old Congress party suffered the worst defeat of its history winning only 44/543 seats. Whereas, the BJP got its best ever tally bagging 282/543 seats and forming government on its own, without even requiring seats from any of its allies. The Modi wave back then, helped BJP to almost clean sweep some of the most important Indian states. BJP got heaps of seats in home state of Modi Gujarat(26/26), UP (71/80), Rajasthan (25/26), MP (27/29), Delhi (7/7) and Chattisgarh (10/11). Apart from these, NDA, as an alliance clean swept states of Maharashtra (41/48) and Bihar (33/40).
Apart from these two major alliances, different influential regional parties are also in the anti-Modi camp. They have been raising voice against the growing intolerance in India against the minorities, ever increasing communal riots and Modi’s fascist and hate mongering politics. AAP(Aam Admi Party) of Delhi and Mamata Bannerjee of West Bengal , despite not being in the Congress alliance are still some of the most prominent voices against Modi and the BJP. Similarly SP (Samajwadi Party) and BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), two very strong regional parties in UP and long time rivals have joined hands to defeat BJP, burying their old differences. Several regional parties of Southern India have also been very critical of the BJP-RSS nexus. RSS is a far right, Hindu nationalist organization that serves as an ideological base camp for groups and personalities working for Hindutva ideology. RSS is working on converting India into a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Republic) instead of a secular one. Modi has himself also served as a member of the RSS in his early age and he still holds Hindutva ideology very close to his heart.
Congress party hopes that different factors such as anti-incumbency, the plight of farmers and the fiscal policies such as De-monitization and the GST will hit BJP badly this time around. They have also been advocating and propagating that if elected again, the BJP might tamper with the Indian constitution and destroy its secular nature. Many Indian intellectuals and artists are also of the view that the Hindutva oriented policies of BJP are damaging the very soul of india, i.e. the diversity of India and its inter-religious harmony. There is a sense of insecurity and fear in the Indian muslims in regard to the BJP-RSS nexus and they are not shy of expressing their dislike for the current regime. The traditional vote bank of the Congress has been Indian minorities (especially muslims), and lower caste hindus such as Dalits and some sections of the Brahmins.
On the other hand BJP, whose popularity was seen taking a dip in the last two years, has consolidated its position and its popularity seems to be on an upward swing since the Balakot episode and the India-Pakistan conflict. Modi has based his whole election campaign on War-Mongering, National Security and Anti-Pakistan sentiments. He hopes to ride on the wave of Patriotism and pave his wave to New Delhi. The BJP also hopes that the organized cadres of RSS at the grass roots level will also help them mobilize their voters. Modi is banking on the right wing Hindu voters and portraying himself as the supreme leader of Hindus. BJP has never cared about the minority vote bank, their whole efforts are directed towards taking the major chunk of the Hindu votes. Hindus form approximately 80 percent of the total population of India.
What-soever may be the result of the Indian elections, it might affect its relations with Pakistan. Modi, according to latest several surveys, is still the hot favourite to be re-elected and he is already blowing the war trumpet. One thing is for sure, if Modi is re-elected, his policy regarding Pakistan is not expected to soften any bit and Pakistan has to remain extremely vigilant in order to repeat the history of 27th February in case of any misadventure from the Indian side.