India General Elections: The World’s Largest Democracy Gets A New Prime Minister!

Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India

When most Americans were sleeping earlier today morning, the largest democratic exercise in the history of human civilization was underway in a faraway land. It was the day of the results of the 2014 General Elections In India, a country of 1.2 billion people. The month-long electoral process ended two days ago and all eyes were set on the results due today. The 2014 Indian General Elections was the most expensive India has ever held. It was the biggest democratic exercise of its kind ever and some of the numbers were simply mind boggling. According to this Reuters report, there were more than 814 million eligible voters in this general elections – that is more than twice the entire population of the United States! More than 10 million people were involved in the election duty for its smooth conduct and all of the voting happened using electronic voting machines.

While most exit polls had already declared that the hot favorites for the winners were the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the results started pouring in, it became increasingly clear that the 2014 General elections would be dominated by the BJP with it alone managing to usurp more than the 272 seats that were required to form the next government. This is the first time since 1984 that a single political party has managed to get an absolute majority to form a government in India. The incumbent government led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and its allies under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) faced its worst ever defeat. The UPA had two successive governments starting 2004, prior to this. It was voted back to power in 2009 after its first term.

The man behind the success of the BJP is the man set to become the country’s next Prime Minister. Narendra Damodardas Modi, was until now in the eyes of the western media and his detractors, a controversial right wing politician famous for being the Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat. Widely criticized for his role in the anti-Muslim riots of 2002 that plagued Gujarat, he has since gone on to lead his home state for three successive terms as Chief Minister. The Supreme Court of India too has found Mr. Modi of being not directly responsible for the 2002 pogroms – perhaps the only blot on Mr. Modi’s controversial past. Modi’s nationwide campaign with development and growth as the vision for India seems to have struck a chord with the people who were fed up with the UPA-led government’s policies that led to the slowing down of the world’s third largest economy in the past two years. That coupled with some of the biggest corruption cases — the sort of scams India has never seen — and a lackluster leadership by Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress ensured a comprehensive victory to the BJP. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has telephoned and congratulated Mr.Modi on his win and also issued an invitation to visit the US, reports the Times Of India.

Another party that made an impact in the 2014 elections was the 18-month-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). While the AAP (which translates to Party of The Common Man) managed to only win four seats in its General Elections debuts, it was impressive for a party that is not even two years old. AAP did however face some heavy setbacks after it did not manage to win a seat in Delhi – a region where it performed better in Assembly elections back in November. Its leader, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, fought against Narendra Modi in a high-profile battle in the constituency of Varanasi in North India and was comprehensively defeated by Modi.

As Narendra Modi prepares to take over the reins of India after the 2014 Indian General Elections, the world will be closely watching the policies of his upcoming government. Known as a strong and decisive leader with great decision making and oratory skills at the national level, many Indians expect him to help the country shed its “soft power” status and elevate India to the status of a world power. This could mean a more belligerent India in its attitude towards its western neighbor Pakistan and its larger adversary, China. Would this result in an unstable South Asia is the question playing in the minds of many people.

[Image via BJP]