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[India] ANALYSIS REPORT OF THE INDIAN GENERAL ELECTIONS 2024

Ms. Pausali Guha; Ms. Prajakta Sawant (PhD candidates, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University)




The Indian General Elections for the Lok Sabha (the Lower House) which began on April 19, 2024 and are slated to reach their conclusion on June 4, 2024, are ongoing, this report will in brief try to bring the readers up to date on the elections through a collection of important insights.


The Election Process

As mentioned in our prior Newsletter on the elections, India is a multiparty democracy with a bicameral parliament with 543 seats of the Lok Sabha. A party that can win 272 seats will form the government and will be able to appoint the Prime Minister. India has around 969 million registered voters with an expected voter turnout of around 65% which means there shall be close to 630 million votes cast this election, due to the size of such a task the election is conducted in seven phases in which different states participate at various dates during the election period.


Pre-Poll Surveys

Despite two terms, the Bhartiya Janta Party (the “BJP”) has continued to gain more vote share and currently, 4 in every 10 polled voters say they would vote for the BJP, which is a gain over the BJP’s prior 2019 numbers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity remains high with 48% of voters supporting another term while the Indian National Congress’s (the “INC”) leader Rahul Gandhi trails at 27%.


Key Issues

The Key Issues of this election are economic, regional, religious and institutional as detailed below:

1.     Economic Issues - There is concern over the rising inflation numbers and the rising unemployment which is contrasted by an expected growth rate of about 8% for Fiscal Year 2023-24. However, some critics point towards uneven economic growth in the economy as India’s richest owned 40% of its wealth this too however is contested by a fall in India’s Gini coefficient that measures inequality in economies.

2.     Regional - Slowly there has emerged a divide over the north and south of India which represents itself in the voting patterns and this has largely been over the centralization of executive power and issues of language centralization. Though this has represented itself in state elections, the question remains concerning the effect on national elections.

3.     Religious - Religion has emerged as a key consideration for voters in the current election with the BJP catering to the Hindu Majority, while the opposition party wishes to rekindle India’s secular identity.

Institutional - The centralization of executive power by the BJP which has been in power for the past decade has raised some eyebrows, this has led to allegations of corruption from both sides, which in some cases has seen the BJP arrest opposition party leaders based on its promise of combatting corruption while the opposition has alleged an abuse of institutional power.


The Manifestos

The manifestos of the BJP and the INC highlight a contrasting approach while the BJP takes an economic incentivisation approach, the INC takes an economic welfare approach and can be highlighted with these key few promises in domestic policy, business policy and foreign policy.

 

1.     Domestic Policy

BJP

INC

Emphasis on stability and strong leadership, while continuing current welfare policies.

Emphasis on new welfare schemes for youth, women and workers.

 

Periodic review of the national floor on wages, infrastructure-focused policy for workers, including dedicated railways for migrant workers and inclusive social security schemes.

Increasing the national minimum wage to INR 400/ day. Urban government employment programs to employ youth, addressing gender discrimination and inequality in workplaces.

Pursuit of key ideological goals like one-nation-one-election and Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Overhaul of civil justice systems to streamline judicial processes.

Removal of the 50% limit on affirmative action policies. Establishment of a Diversity Commission to measure, monitor and promote diversity in public and private employment and education.

 

2.        Business Policy

BJP

INC

Continue its production-linked incentives to promote manufacturing and reduce fiscal deficit to 5.1% by Fiscal Year 2025 and 4.5% by Fiscal Year 2026.

Boost manufacturing to 20% of GDP in the next 5 years and revitalise stalled projects. Focus on public-private partnerships in infrastructure development.

Expand and support the startup ecosystem of tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Expansion of road infrastructure while promoting EV adoption and infrastructure.

Modernisation of railway systems to improve rural-urban connectivity and regulate tolls and promote sustainable extraction of resources.

Tax simplification and revamping competition laws.

Regulatory reform and tax simplification to maintain best business practices.

 

3.     Foreign Policy

BJP

INC

Vishwa Bandhu (Kinsman of the universe) policy which seeks to maintain friendly ties with all countries.

Peaceful co-existence and multilateral engagement. Returning status quo at borders with China.

Acceleration of infrastructure along the Chinese, Pakistan and Myanmar Borders.

Prioritizing relationships with neighbours such as Nepal and Bhutan.

Commitment to combatting terrorism globally through cooperation while aiming to be the voice of the global south.

Boost India’s international image through diplomacy and increased representation abroad.

 Conclusion

This election will be a landmark in the global political landscape as it comes at a time when the world is looking to India as its next growth engine and numerous policies and legislation have been put on the backburner due to the election which will likely come into effect post the election. This election will likely mark the beginning of a growth phase in the Indian economy and is a pivotal moment that will determine India's role in the world economy.


India's role on the world stage is also closely tied to its domestic policies, economic strength, and diplomatic initiatives. A robust economy can enhance India's influence globally, enabling it to play a more prominent role in international forums, trade negotiations, and strategic partnerships.













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