The unpredictable Election scenario in India!

Indian Election scenario April-May 2014

Elections in India -certain facts.

The countdown to commencement of first phase of election has begun. Parties and leaders are busy crisscrossing their constituencies. It is grueling summer everywhere. The temporary staff that work in a constituency are assured of free breakfast, tea, a lunch and dinner if he works through the day and gets compensated by Rs.100/- or Rs.200- according to the assignments. There is no dearth of cash everywhere, the only difference is most of them are unaccounted or black money as per income tax department’s definition. In spite of vigorous checks by teams of election officials, the candidates and the party manage to give the election commission a slip and transport them to the destination in some novel ways. None dare to ask for accounts. Their only assignment is to go through each lane and bye lanes of every nook and corner of the constituency and gather support for their party candidate. Due to strict vigilance by election authority, the candidates are finding difficult to gather votes by bribing the voters.

This is the condition everywhere in India throughout the 543 constituencies. Many things decide the fate of the candidate in prey. 1. The candidate is a prominent leader of the community. 2. He has done real work in the constituency for the welfare of the people there. He is a known face in the locality who participates in the functions often. He spends the funds allocated for the constituency in a transparent manner and enabled welfare activities. He has represented vociferously in the forums of parliament for his constituency if he had already worked as a Member of Parliament. Baring a small percentage of MPs, majority of the MPs do not visit their constituency much often except during attending some functions or inauguration of major projects. But they are particular that he gets sufficient coverage both in print media and TV news. Most of the present leaders find place in print media and TV news for the wrong reasons. But we have to appreciate the Election Commission for the strong measures taken to conduct the General Elections in the most transparent ways.

In this Election, a new button is introduced in the Electronic Voting Machines. If the voter is not willing to vote for any of the candidates, he has an option to press “NOTA” (not anyone of the above). Secondly, the expenditure limit has been set. Each candidate can spend only up to Rs.70, 00,000/- towards electioneering expenses. But it is evident that each candidate spends much more but somehow they show the accounts for the limited amounts only. To curtail excess spending, the election commission has set up expense monitoring parties throughout India who watch the activities, advertisements, public meetings and they estimate the amount spent by certain yardsticks. If the accounts submitted by the candidate are found bogus, they initiate proceedings against the candidates.

There is some interesting information regarding the Elections. Not many candidates are able to spend a fortune during electioneering. The parties allocate certain portion out of the donations sought prior to elections. Of course, it is legal for big private companies for making donations to political parties. This is like an investment associated with some risk. If the parties that receive the donations really win and form the government, those companies which have donated substantially can reap certain benefits later. Sometimes, big business houses donate to more than one major party. One party will definitely come to power and they can bargain some benefits later.

Caste, community and religion play an important role in the general elections. In most of the constituencies, caste based politics alone wins. Very rarely, an outsider gain credence in a locality. Likewise, the minority card is played where the other communities are few in number. Also, Dalit factor is an important issue in Indian politics. There are many Dalit (those from economically and socially backward for many decades) The Government has notified those castes which are backward for many decades and slowly tries to bring them to the main stream politics. Hence many leaders have come up to the top layers of governance.

The present fight is really between two major parties; BJP and Indian National Congress. In the many surveys that were conducted by certain media organizations, BJP seems to be the frontrunner. They are about to gain 200+ seats in the Parliament. The present ruling elite, Congress is suffering from incumbency factor, scams of corruption etc. Hence the prediction is 100+ seats to them. Out of the total 543 seats, the alliance which gains above the half way mark can alone form the next government. Hence it is imperative that the winning party along with it allies should get minimum 272 seats to stake forming government. But in the present scenario, it is highly doubtful whether the BJP will be able to scrap through the half way mark, even if they are fighting the elections with many regional parties.

The BJP may gain in certain states like Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, UP, Gujarat and Madhyapradesh . There are doubtful states like the Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra and Kerala. In North Eastern states like West Bengal, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland, the BJP has not gained any inroads. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress headed by Mamata Banarjee is very strong. Hence if we consider the overall situation, there are many doubtful results like Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar and Orissa. Hence the situation is not that much rosy for BJP. They can never gain absolute majority but they have to stitch up alliances after the results are out. In such a scenario, the BJP will become vulnerable since small parties are likely to demand their pounds of flesh. They may even blackmail the major party to toe in to their demands. There is every possibility for a hung parliament with uncertain mandate!

This time also, the smaller parties which are in prey are likely to play a major role in government formation in the Center at Delhi.

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