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Why is India’s upcoming general election important?

April 3, 2024 9:37 am

Why is India's upcoming general election important?

India’s upcoming general elections may become particularly significant. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is contesting the general elections in India, a country of more than 1.4 billion people and about 97 million voters.

According to a report by US media Voice of America, India is an emerging global power under Modi. However, his rule saw rising unemployment, attacks by Hindu nationalists against minorities, particularly Muslims, and the shrinking of space for dissent and free media.

The six-week general election will begin on April 19. The result will be declared on June 4. Voters representing more than 10 percent of the world’s population elect 543 members of the lower house of parliament for five-year terms.

Polling will be held in seven phases and polling will be held in more than 1 million polling booths. Polling will be held within one day in each phase. On that day, there will be polling in several constituencies in several states. This will allow the government to deploy thousands of troops to prevent violence and transport election officials and voting machines.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its main rival, Rahul Gandhi of the Indian National Congress, represent the two largest segments of parliament. Several other important regional parties are part of the opposition bloc.

The opposition parties have united under the leadership of a front called India or Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance to prevent Modi from winning a third consecutive term in the elections.

What are the major issues in the election?

India has held fast to its democratic creed for decades, largely due to free elections, independent judiciary, thriving media, strong opposition and peaceful transfer of power. Some of these features have gradually eroded during Modi’s 10-year rule. These elections are seen as a test for the country’s democratic values.

Many observers now call India a “hybrid regime” that is neither a full democracy nor a full dictatorship. Leader Modi’s boundaries will also be tested in this election. Attacks on religious minorities, particularly Muslims, have been on the rise in Modi’s rise. Critics accuse him of jeopardizing the country’s secular roots by using a ‘Hindu First’ platform.

Voice of America says India’s media, once considered vibrant and largely independent, has become more cornered under Modi, with critical voices stifled. The courts have largely bowed to Modi’s wishes. Many important cases have been ruled in favor of the Modi government.

Centralization of executive power has put pressure on India’s federal government, and federal agencies have pressed top opposition leaders on corruption charges.

Another important factor is India’s huge economy, which is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This has helped India emerge as a global power and a counter force against China. But while India’s growth has picked up by some measures, the Modi government has struggled to create enough jobs for young Indians. Instead, they rely on welfare programs like free food and housing to attract voters.

According to a recent report of the United Nations, India is one of the countries in the world where the gap between the rich and the poor is the largest. It is expected that in the upcoming general elections, the voters will get another chance to decide the future direction of the country.

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