Vote India, vote
With the first of nine phases of the 2014 general elections already underway, the world’s largest democracy stands at an unprecedented moment. The biggest ever exercise of the right to universal franchise, with over 81.4 crore people casting their ballots and 20 per cent of them being first-time voters, India’s national elections 2014 promise to be both a grand theatre of political participation as well as an experiment in electoral awareness. Set to elect the 16th Lok Sabha, its 543 elected members from as many constituencies, 2014 is indeed huge in terms of scale and depth. Traditional turnouts during poll time have hovered at around 55 per cent on an average, but this election might shore up a turnout several notches above that level, thanks to the heightened campaigns by the political parties, the government, mass and social media as well as peer to peer popularisation of competing election agenda. At least five million people are expected to conduct the procedure and another five million have been delegated to ensure security at every polling booth. Crucial states with largest number of parliamentary seats include Uttar Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42), Tamil Nadu (39), Gujarat (26), with the last leg of the election scheduled to hold polls in the most populous states. Given the bitter buildup to the tough fight that will take place to win people’s electoral endorsement, the general elections could very well prove to be the final nail in the coffin that is the plight of the grand old party and the dynasty that has acted as the core holding it together. New challenges, in Narendra Modi-led BJP and its politics of cultural and economic nationalism, Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP and its unsettling questions on entrenched system of corrupt polity, high inflation as well as ever stronger hold of regional parties, have certainly queered the pitch of India’s biggest poll dance ever.