Indian General Election Update

Voting for India’s general elections will begin on April 11th and will be conducted in seven phases throughout the country until May 23rd, when the results will be announced. There are about 900 million people that can vote in the 2019 general elections, aged eighteen and older. India’s twenty- nine states and seven territories will be voting, and the influence individual states have is determined by the number of Lok Sabha constituencies in each state or territory. The number of seats of each state is determined by its size. Uttar Pradesh is one of the most impactful states in the general elections, as there are about 200 million individuals that live in the state alone. Uttar Pradesh has eighty seats in the Lok Sabha, Maharashtra has forty-eight, and West Bengal has forty- two.


There have been five state elections so far, and they took place at the end of 2018. The states that have already conducted their elections include Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Mizoram. Congress won majority in Madhya Pradesh with 114 seats, whereas BJP won majority in 2013 with 165 seats. Congress also won majority in Rajasthan with 100 seats, and Chhattisgarh with 68 seats. BJP won majority seats in both states in 2013 as well. In Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) regional party won majority, and in Mizoram, the Mizo National Front (MNF) regional party won majority. The rest of the state elections will take place between April 11th and May 23rd, and will determine whether Congress will continue their winning streak.


The first phase of elections will take place on April 11th, and the voting states include: Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman & Nicobar, and Lakshadweep.


The second phase of elections will take place on April 18th, and the voting states include: Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka with 14 contested seats, Maharashtra with 10 contested seats, Manipur with 1 contested seat, Odisha with 5 contested seats, Tamil Nadu with 39 contested seats, Tripura with 1 contested seats, Uttar Pradesh with 8 contested seats, West Bengal with 3 contested seats, and Puducherry with 1 contested seat.


The third phase of elections will take place on April 23rd, and the voting states include:  Assam with 4 contested seats, Bihar with 5 contested seats, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.


The fourth phase of elections will take place on April 29th, and the voting states include: Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal.


The fifth phase of elections will take place on May 6th, and the voting states include: Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal.


The sixth phase of elections will take place on May 12th, and the voting states include: Bihar, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, and Delhi.


The seventh phase of elections will take place on May 19th, and the voting states include: Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Bengal, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh.


The political parties in contention for this year’s general elections are not just limited to the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Mahagathbandhan alliance is composed of numerous different regional political parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party from Uttar Pradesh, the Trinamool Congress, and the Aam Aadmi Party. This alliance is serving as a united front against the ruling BJP party, and has the potential to win majority seats in Uttar Pradesh. There are also other regional parties in contention, such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party from Tamil Nadu and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi from Telangana.


The current dynamic between the Congress Party and the BJP is very different compared to 2014, as BJP was considered the invigorated and secure party between the two leading political parties. Congress has won three key state elections in December of 2018, portraying a potential shift in power. The election messages promoted by both Congress and BJP are quite narrow however, which is affecting their campaigns to win majority. CNN reported, “The BJP's election message this year appears simply to be: We are better than the Congress, and we need more time to deliver a new India. For the Congress so far, it boils down to: We are not the BJP.”


Modi’s BJP party won with a landslide victory in the last general elections, and the current Prime Minister seems to be taking advantage of recent events to push for his re-election. Since the Pulwama attack in Kashmir and the Indian airstrikes in Pakistan on February 26th, Modi has made numerous speeches throughout India to promote BJP’s response to the incidents. He is clear to state that previous governments would not have reacted as boldly as his administration did, hoping to promote a sense of patriotism amongst Indian voters. As stated in the Economic Times, “…Modi may have showed the courage to break away from India’s self-imposed ‘nuance’ with Pakistan and carried out strikes inside the latter’s territory – a move that’s seen to be in sync with BJP’s core nationalist ideology.” However, this anti-Pakistan sentiment is not receiving the support that the BJP party expected. The frustration with the current administration is widespread, especially due to the millions of individuals who are currently unemployed and the immense debt that many farmers are facing. The next few months will determine the status of Modi’s reelection, and whether BJP can keep its majority after the general elections conclude in May.