Touted as the world’s largest democratic exercise, India’s month-long parliamentary elections began on April 7, calling on some 814 million registered voters to elect their representatives for the 545-member lower house of parliament – the Lok Sabha. The vote is widely seen as a two-front contest, with the latest opinion polls predicting a strong lead for the opposition NDA coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Several polls also suggest that the ruling Congress Party-led UPA alliance may suffer its worst electoral defeat since the country’s independence in 1947. A hung parliament? But even if the BJP-led coalition were to emerge as the largest political bloc after the elections, it would only win around 220-230 parliamentary seats, according to the most optimistic estimates. That number would fall short of the mark of 272 seats required to form government. This would, in turn, force the BJP to seek support from other regional parties, particularly those led by women in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh; states which are considered to be crucial electoral battlegrounds. The states account for 161 out of 543 parliamentary constituencies up for grabs in the current polls, a… Read full this story
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