Today was the last day of polling in India’s mammoth parliamentary elections. Five weeks of voting; Nine polling days; 814 million eligible voters; 543 Lok Sabha (lower House) seats.
From all the exit polling I’ve seen, it looks like the worst loss ever for the Indian National Congress, the party of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi that for so many years led an independent India.
But people are fed up with corruption and inefficiency. The polls show a huge victory in the making for Narendra Modi, a self-avowed Hindu nationalist.
Modi has been a controversial and polarizing figure in India. Hindu-Muslim violence under his watch in 2002 earned him the nickname, “The butcher of Gujarat.”
But Modi’s Bharaitya Janata Party is known as entrepreneurial and business-friendly. That’s why a lot of people I know in India voted for Modi in the election, the largest ever in the history of mankind.
Exit polls have been proven grossly wrong in the past in India. But still, it’s not looking good for Congress. I think there are big changes looming in my homeland.
Get this: Starting on April 7, nearly 815 million Indians will begin casting ballots in this year’s parliamentary elections. Yes, 815 million!
That’s almost 100 million more than there were in the last election in 2009.
How to accommodate the huge number of estimate voters in the world’s most populous democracy? Polling is staggered over nine days: April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24, 30 and May 7, 12. There are 930,000 polling stations and 11 million personnel — including security forces — will be deployed to facilitate the voting.
The world’s biggest election pits the ruling Congress Party against the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and comes at a time when India is at a profound point in history. Who will lead the nation as it figures out how to charge forward into the future.
The vote will be counted May 16. Balloting is electronic but God help the people in charge!
“Elections to world’s largest democracy pose immense challenges with respect to logistics and man and material management,” said R. Balakrishnan, India’s deputy election commissioner.
We Americans consider ours the greatest democracy in the world. But I firmly believe the task at hand in my homeland is enormous. And if things go smoothly, India should stand proud.