India’s 2014 Elections

“India has won! Good days are ahead”, was the most retweeted Twitter post on 16th May, 2014. This was first tweeted by Mr. Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India on winning the elections. India, the largest democracy in the world, was due for prime ministerial elections as the previous minister’s term was nearing completion.

The citizens of India were frustrated with the Indian National Congress or INC, the party in power before Narendra Modi’s win. This was mainly because of the series of financial scams that had rocked India. Scams made their way so deep into the country’s governance that even defense deals were not spared. With rising frustration among citizens and a falling national economy, India was desperately in need of a robust governance.

Background

With much publicity served continuously about how Narendra Modi developed his ruling state Gujarat in the past ten years, he had earned the trust of Indians well in advance. After the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP designated Modi as the prime ministerial candidate in June 2013 for the 2014 elections of Lok Sabha, the Upper House in India’s democratic hierarchy, Modi headed the poll campaign and campaigned vigorously. The strongest opposition was the previously ruling INC, headed by the Gandhi family since the past 60 years. Sonia Gandhi, the party chief of INC and widow of India’s ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi, along with her son Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of INC, were heading the poll campaign of INC. Modi campaigned extensively to reach out to majority of the Indians by addressing 437 rallies, 5827 public interfacing events and travelled over three lakh kilometers for the same. Modi being a techno-freak, used social media as a tool to reach out to the younger generations, which included posts on Facebook and Twitter actively. Out of the 543 parliamentary constituencies in Lok Sabha, a simple majority of 272 was required for any party or alliance to govern 1.2 billion citizens for half a decade. Much momentum had gained for the elections as the newly formed party by anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal was also contesting for the first time.

The Election Commission of India (ECI), an autonomous body governing the election process in India, announced the 2014 elections. What followed was a series of poll campaigns, mutual accusations among different parties and various controversies were sparked during the campaign process. Modi was to contest from Vadodra, a constituency from his ruling state Gujarat. However, Kejriwal challenged him to fight the elections from any other seat apart from a BJP ruled state. Modi took this up as a challenge and filed nomination for the Varanasi seat too, from where Kejriwal himself was contesting. This made it a face on fight for both, making the poll even more interesting. The BJP’s election manifesto included solutions to check price rise, corruption and creation of e-governance for open government and accountable administration. The poll campaign included various political leaders taking digs at each other and accusing each other of various riots and scams, especially INC accusing Modi for the communal riots of Gujarat, 2002. Rahul Gandhi was largely responsible for screwing up INC’s poll campaign, as he spoke in a very immature way, while addressing rallies and during interviews.

Polling

The ECI announced the last day for election campaigns, and elections kick started in India, which involved polling in 930,000 polling centers, with 814.5 million people casting their votes, making it the largest ever election in the world. In all, there were 8251 candidates contesting for the 543 seats. The voting process was spread over 9 phases, with each phase covering a particular region. The polling process went on smoothly, apart from a few complaints by oppositions that the polling booth was manipulated or rigged. This forced the ECI to conduct re-polls in 52 voting centers at a later stage. The last phase of the election concluded on 12th May. 66.38% of the eligible voters cast their vote on an average, making it the largest turnout in the history of India till date.

Soon after the polling phase was over, exit-polls could be published by media-houses. Thus, on the last day of polling, various media houses published the results of exit polls, an opinionated survey carried out on people who had cast their votes. The exit poll results clearly indicated towards the win of BJP, with them gaining majority at least on an alliance basis. Leaders from INC were already prepared for the defeat, starting the blame-game for their reason of defeat.

Results

The counting of votes from all the constituencies began on 16th May, at 8 AM IST. The ECI had made the results available on a real-time basis as the counting took place. Citizens of India were glued to devices eagerly waiting to know the results. With both parties having equal number of votes counted initially, the BJP took lead by 11 AM. However, as the counting progressed, it emerged more clearly that the BJP and in turn Narendra Modi, was heading towards a major win. Towards evening, it was very clear that the BJP emerged out as the winner. With the BJP alone securing 282 seats, it was a clean win without any hassle. The alliance BJP had with several other parties took their seat count to a whopping 336, making them the largest alliance. The INC suffered largely, as they won only 44 seats, against their previous win of 206. This is how India, the world’s largest democracy, placed into power Narendra Modi, a political personality who was a humble tea-vendor before entering politics, to head India.

As the BJP took lead in the counting process, stock markets of India rallied to touch record highs and the Indian Rupee rose against USD to a 11 month high. Placing BJP into power strengthened investor sentiments from all over the world. Modi was congratulated from round the globe by the political leaders of almost all countries. This was followed by the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Damodardas Modi as the 15th Prime Minister of India. The event was watched by millions and dignitaries from all the neighboring countries including Pakistan, a country India is constantly at tiffs with, were invited. This event was a spectacle to watch, with around 3000 security forces securing the entire area. Modi, at his first day of the Prime Minister’s office, made several changes to the previous policies, and also formed a special committee to investigate into the black money being whisked out from India and bring the same back. Modi has a record for developing Gujarat, a barren earthquake-hit state before he took charge, into a completely industrialized and developed state within a span of ten years. Indians have placed their hopes very strongly on the new Prime Minister. However, the coming days and events to unfold will let India decide if they took the right decision by choosing Modi as the Prime Minister!

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