The Chief Election Commissioner of India Sunil Arora held a press conference at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday to announce the most important event of 2019 in India – The Lok Sabha Elections.
– tipped as the world’s biggest democratic exercise,
– over 900 million voters eligible,
– 15 million first-time voters: between 18 and 19 years of age,
– a huge exercise lasting 40 days beginning from April 11,
– to be held in seven stages,
– results to be declared on May 23.
– Facebook, Twitter, Google and WhatsApp will try to prevent the fake news menace by deploying grievance officers and fact checkers.
There has been growing concern in India that political parties and their workers could become mischievous and spread false news on the social media platforms to confuse voters. WhatsApp has, in particular, become the main campaign tool used extensively by almost every political party. The EC has also set up a separate team to monitor expenditure of political parties. Earlier, in 2014 those expenditures were phenomenal. Many parties did not disclose their expenses in full and the EC could not monitor such cases in the past. The candidates are also supposed to disclose the criminal cases pending against them in no uncertain ways.
The Ground Reality: Before and after Feb 26, 2019.
The date – Feb 26, 2019 – will go down in the annals of Indian history as the most decisive turning point. Until a few weeks ago, it was business as usual in political circles. One party blaming the other for all the ills in the Indian society. But, post Feb 26, the atmosphere has completely changed. India has been hit by a Tsunami wave called Modi.
India’s armed forces clashed with those of arch-rival Pakistan. It triggered an unprecedented wave of patriotic fervor across India’s of 1.3 billion strong population.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi now has a distinctly clear advantage over his political opponents after Feb 26.
Pollsters have started predicting landslide victory for the ruling BJP.
India-wide surveys tell Modi’s popularity swung to a massive 52 % from 7% 24 hours earlier. Rafale, CBI, RBI, shortage of jobs, distressed farmers were seen to be factors denting Modi’s popularity. After Feb 26, all such issues have swiftly been removed from voter’s mind and replaced by patriotism. And, they are history now.
Without a shadow of doubt, India is now seen charged up due to the Pakistan issue. The national security and nationalism could easily trump economic or other social issues in determining voters’ preferences.
In 2014’s general election, the BJP won 282 out of 543 contested seats – the strongest showing for any political party in 30 years. Post Feb 26, considering the present charged up atmosphere, the BJP may win over 400 seats. Pollsters tell that Modi’s approval rating has soared sky-high.
However, the main opposition Congress party, who late in 2018 somehow managed to beat BJP in three cow-belt states, is trying to stitch together alliances with regional and caste-based outfits to defeat Modi.
So far, it has been unsuccessful. Congress has been left out of SP-BSP combine in U.P., the largest state. Congress, controlled by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that ruled India for almost 70 years post-independence, is falling short of ideas that could propel the opposition alliance to victory.