India Lok Shabha polls begin today

Gautam Lahiri

11 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

New Delhi: The first phase of the India Lok Sabha election will be held today with poll survey showing that Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will win slim majority.

Voting will be held in seven phases until May 19 under EVM system and vote counting will be held on May 23. People will cast their votes at 91 centres in 20 states in the first phase.

A neck and neck contest among major political parties and their allies is posing a big question as to who will be the next prime minister of India.

Most of the pre-poll surveys show that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) took a lead over the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the polls.

But India’s election history does not support the survey report. Only Jawaharlal Nehru became prime minister for two consecutive terms.

In politics nothing is impossible and one cannot rule out possibility of Mamata Banerjee to be Modi’s successor.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination for the Amethi seat, a Gandhi bastion in Uttar Pradesh he has represented for the last 14 years.

Indira Gandhi, who became prime minister through exclusive majority of Congress, was defeated in the next Lok Sabha elections in 1977.

She did not get a second term. Morarji Desai became prime minister through polls victory of Janata Dal which was the first non-Congress party formed government after independence of India.

Desai did not get a second term as Indira became premier through Congress’ victory in the next election held after two and a half years later.

After the assassination of Indira, Rajiv helmed the party and served the country as prime minister from 1984 to 1989.

But he did not get second term as VP Singh replaced him through the next polls.

Modi became prime minister following his party’s victory through 2014 Lok Sabha polls. So, people are curious to see whether Modi can get second term or not.

However, the main electoral fight will take place between the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led 37-party alliance NDA and Rahul Gandhi-led 20-party UPA.

Modi-Amit Shah’s BJP seems to remain ahead in terms of the alliance-based politics while the Rahul-led Congress is also in a very strong position in the election field to fight for the final vote battle.

In the regional influential parties, West Bengal Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee, main contender of anti-Modi regional government, is running for election alone without any alliance.

In Uttar Pradesh, alliance of Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party and Ajit Singh’s, son of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal, has thrown challenge to BJP in competing 80 seats.

Though it was heard that these parties likely to form alliance with Congress, but they did not. They only have not selected any aspirants in Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli constituency and Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi constituency.

Like that, Congress is not fielding its candidates in seven constituencies belonging to the top leaders of these regional parties.

In the last election, BJP won 73 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh province that helped Modi to assume power.

As Uttar Pradesh seems to be very important province for the entire Lok Sabha election, for the first time Congress has nominated Priyanka Gandhi as its general secretary for election campaign.

Now, the focus is whether Gandhi magic is going to make any difference in the Modi’s stronghold.

In terms of election alliance, BJP technically showed its magic that raises tension within Congress to some extent.

The continuous protest from several election allies had brought tension for BJP till the announcement of election schedule.

However, the ruling BJP made a very fruitful seat sharing with its allies.

For the first time, BJP has got Songjukto Janata Dal of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and NIDM in Tamil Nadu as their allies in election.

Though BJP won 23 seats in Bihar in the last election, it is going to compromise six seats for Nitish Kumar party.

In Maharashtra, Amit Shah made an understanding with Uddhav Thakrey’s party in the state.

After summing up, BJP is going to compete in 438 seats and the rest will be left for its allies.

At the same time, Congress has decided to compete in 424 seats. Alliance with left parties in West Bengal broke down and the left ones will also field their candidates in Kerala as Rahul Gandhi has announced to compete himself in this constituency.

In Bihar, Congress has made settlement in Bihar with Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Party while it is also in comfort zone in Karnataka.

The party has also reached a consensus with NCP of Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra and DMK in Tamil Nadu.

In the upcoming election, the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Naredra Modi is the key factor. Even, the main opposition Congress is yet to announce the name of its prime minister that also brought some advantage for BJP.

On the other hand, Congress is bringing forward the failure of BJP government during the last five years, especially, BJP’s false promise of uplifting the income of farmers and eradicating unemployment.