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2014 Election

In June 2013 Indias main opposition party chose one of the countrys most controversial politicians, Narendra Modi, to lead it in national elections in 2014. This boosted his chances of becoming prime minister, if the party wins. But the choice of the Hindu nationalist leader exposed deep rifts within his party. Speaking to party members after his election as head of the Bharatiya Janata Partys (BJP) poll campaign committee, Narendra Modi vowed to defeat the ruling Congress Party, which headed a coalition government since 2004. Modi said the party's aim should be to free India of Congress Party rule. He said, if this can happen all problems will be solved. India is to hold elections by spring 2014. And, as the race between the countrys two main parties - the Hindu nationalist BJP and the Congress Party starts taking shape - Modi became one of Indias most closely-watched politicians. The senior leadership was a little uneasy because Modi is the kind of domineering leader who had very little time for other senior leaders. Modi would definitely take BJP toward a personality-oriented party.

Modis strongest supporters are Indias urban, middle classes, who are looking for an alternative to the scandal-ridden Congress Party and calling for cleaner governance. But this message may not resonate in the heartland of India. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi focused on development, with a special emphasis on the urban middle class, to the detriment of the peasantry and, more specifically, Dalits and Tribals. The result was an unprecedented urban-rural polarization during Gujarats 2012 state elections. The increasing polarization between the rural and urban electorates may be one of the main features of the 2014 elention. The Congress image had been badly tarnished by a series of corruption scandals during its second term in office. It also received flak for a policy paralysis that led Indias economy to slump to its slowest in a decade.

The ruling Congress party suffered a crushing defeat in elections 01 December 2013 in four key states, signaling a difficult road ahead for the party as it prepared for national elections in 2014. The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged the frontrunner in these states, but it was the impressive showing in the Indian capital by a new party born on an anti-corruption plank that captured attention. In Rajasthan, BJP won 162 seats in the 199 constituencies that went to poll. Congress won 21, National People's Party, NPP-4 and Bahujan Samaj Party -3. Independents and others won nine. In Chhattisgarh, the BJP won 49 seats in the 90 member assembly. The Congress won 39, BSP-1 and others - one. Delhi gave a fractured verdict with no party getting absolute majority in the 70 member assembly. The remarkable change in the election scenario was witnessed in Delhi with the debutant Aam Aadmi Party giving a tough battle to BJP and Congress.

India began its multi-stage parliamentary election in April, with opinion polls suggesting that the opposition Hindu nationalist block could upset the longtime ruling Congress Party. Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said on March 05, 2014 sum 814 million people have registered to vote, making it what could be the world's largest ever election. In a press conference, he described the multi-round voting process. "The first day of the poll shall be on 7th April, 2014. This is held in two states and the number of parliamentary constituencies will be six. The next date of poll is 9th April, which will cover five states and seven parliamentary constituencies," he said. In total, nine rounds of voting will be held, with the final round being held May 12.

India's election spending is set to reach $5 billion -- three times higher than in 2009 -- as candidates spend millions of dollars on the countrys most expensive campaign. A large portion of funding comes from unaccountable sources, and some is used to bribe voters. Although the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party are the main contenders, there are some 30 parties competing for the 543 seats in parliament. India's election commission caps candidate campaign spending at $115,000, but it is well known that candidates spend many times that sum. In some states, more than 50 percent of the voters are paid money by the candidates, what is called note for vote. Between the Congress and the BJP, roughly one third of the candidates have criminal cases and 13 percent with serious criminal cases.

Results were announced on May 16. The Election Commission of India says a record 66 percent of the country's 815 million registered voters cast ballots. BJP secured the biggest win by a single party in 30 years. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a crushing victory in the general election by grasping an absolute majority of 282 seats. That meant BJP can create a government without forming a coalition with regional leaders. The Congress Paraty, led by the Gandhi family's Congress party, which ruled India for the last decade, suffered its worst defeat in history with only 44 seats.

This newly elected Lok Sabha [Indian Parliament's lower house], will have the highest proportion of lawmakers with criminal cases against them and will also be the richest since 2004. Over a third or 34 percent of new Members of Parliament face criminal charges, according to data from the Association for Democratic Reforms' (ADR) analysis of election affidavits filed before the Election Commission of India (ECI). This came against 30 percent in 2009 and 24 percent in 2004, said the report. Over a third of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) new MPs face criminal charges and over a fifth face serious criminal charges, said the report. For the Congress, the proportion is lower at 18 percent and 7 percent, respectively. With 82 percent of its members worth over 10 million rupees ( 160,000 U.S. dollars) each, this will also be the richest known Lok Sabha, compared to 2009's 58 percent and 2004's 30 percent.

With no foreign policy track record, it is uncertain how Modi might alter Indias international relations. Relations with Pakistan, both economic and diplomatic, could improve if Modi becomes prime minister, as it did under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the first BJP prime minister, between 1998 and 2004. Modi could be under tremendous pressure from hardliners in his party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modis ruling Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party, suffered a crushing defeat in a key November 2015 election in Bihar, one of the countrys largest and most underdeveloped states. The decisive loss signaled a decline in his popularity, and could be a setback to his economic reform agenda. Earlier this year the BJP was also routed in elections held in Delhi. The results dealt a blow to his partys hopes of improving its numbers in the upper house of parliament, which was needed to pass key pending legislation on tax reform.

The BJP may not get the majority mark of 123 during the remaining period of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. Other states including Assam and Uttar Pradesh will also go to polls before 2019 general elections, but the NDA cannot bank much on the basis of mere projections of future results after losing crucial numbers in Delhi and Bihar.

At present, the NDA had only 67 members in the Rajya Sabha as against 78 members of the UPA. Though the NDA does not need majority in the Upper House while getting Money Bills passed, it certainly needs majority to get assent of the Rajya Sabha in case of non-Money Bills. In case of non-Money Bills, the powers of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are equal. Every non-financial measure must be passed by both of the Houses before it can become an Act. The Lok Sabha had no power to overrule the Rajya Sabha in such Bills which can be introduced in either House. Though the government still had options to get crucial Bills passed by calling joint sitting of Parliament or by getting support of other parties (89 non-UPA members and 10 nominated ones), this is not always considered an easy route considering the complexities involved in convincing different parties on different issues.

On May 19, 2016 Indias ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gained a much-needed boost in regional elections, wrestling control of the northeastern state of Assam and expanding its influence beyond its traditional strongholds. The news came after two humiliating losses in Delhi and Bihar in 2015 raised questions about loss of momentum for the Hindu nationalist party, which swept national elections in 2014. The win in Assam, an underdeveloped state rife with ethnic and religious tension, was significant because it shows the Hindu nationalist party making a mark in an area outside the north and west from where much of its support flows.

Although the BJP scored a win against a weakened Congress in Assam, it failed to gain a foothold in the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, or make a significant mark in West Bengal, which are controlled by powerful regional parties. In fact, the elections demonstrated the continuing influence of these parties and the sway that charismatic local leaders command in several key states. The fiery leader of the Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee, retained control of West Bengal, and another woman leader, J. Jayalalithaa, held on to power in Tamil Nadu.

The results were a huge blow for the Congress Party which ruled India for over 60 years and was once the countrys dominant political party. Besides losing Assam, the party also lost the southern state of Kerala, where a coalition of left-wing parties led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was ahead. Those were crucial losses for a party that is now not a significant player in most of the countrys 29 states.

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