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Indian Lok Sabha elections 2019

Translated Saturday 4 May 2019, by G. Asha, G. ASHA

Indian Lok Sabha elections 2019

by G. Asha

India goes to elections in all states and union territories from 11 April to 19 May 2019. The results will be declared on May 23, 2019. Depending on the results, the new Lok Sabha-Lower House of Parliament, will be constituted and a decision on the Prime Minister will be made. He or she will then select their cabinet including Ministers.

This long and arduous exercise is a demonstration of democracy in action. Over the years much of this has been streamlined. Now the votes are done electronically using electronic voting machines (EVM )machines which have been distributed to different polling booths situated on the most isolated hill top or the densely populated metros like Mumbai or Delhi.

Each candidate is allowed to spend only Rs.70 lakhs ( about $ 100,000) on electioneering. But the expenses far exceed this and no one seems to be taken to task. The ruly NDA of which the BJP ( a right wing party) spent Rs. 700 crores ( $ 100,40,450 ) on campaigning and publicity in the last election in 2014 and now it could be much more. The current PM Narendra Modi used private planes provided by two industrialists Adani and Ambani for conducting his campaign across the country and certainly they have been suitably rewarded when he came to power. This certainly questions how fair and free these elections really are.

I am writing from Trivandrum the capital of the state of Kerala which elects 20 people to the Lok Sabha. It was the state which elected the Communist Party into power in 1957 through elections. Over the years the battle has been between the Left Democratic Front ( LDF) and the United Democratic Front ( UDF). However, this time the right wing National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has entered the fray with great aggressiveness. It helps them that their party is in power in Delhi and their important leaders including the Prime Minister have flown down to this tiny state to campaign to remove the red terror. They have been using the Hindutva ( India should be a Hindu nation and not a secular nation) card to get votes for many years in North India but this has not swayed the Kerala voter. But this time the NDA seized on a court ruling allowing women entry into the temple shrine of Sabarimala to point out that the LDF which is in power in the state was against religion , the believers and created a huge divide here.

Yesterday, April 21st was the last day of public campaigning. This ended with Kottikalasham or end of campaigning to drum beats. I went to Peroorkada junction near my house to see this. All three groups – LDF, UDF and NDA were assembled with their banners, floats, drums, and supporters. Red, orange and white and green were to be seen everywhere. Youngsters danced to drum beats. The Left candidate Mr. C. Divakaran – a school teacher turned into full time politician was present there to greet the public. As I walked back to my house and looked at the sunset I wondered if these youngsters who support their respective parties so enthusiastically will have a brighter future in the years to come. Better education, jobs for all so that they don’t need to migrate and a less stressful lifestyle.

G. Asha

April 22, 2019


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