The 17th Lok Sabha or lower house of India’s bicameral parliament was elected based on the results of the world’s biggest election conducted in the summer of 2019. This was the largest democratic and the most expensive election in the world. Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had a consecutive win with a majority of 303 out of 543 parliamentary seats. The voting trend followed the pattern of the previous election in 2014, ensuring a second prime-ministerial term for Modi. Interestingly, this election witnessed an increased participation from women and young Indians. In addition, there were many young, educated candidates contesting as compared to previous years resulting in the highest number of women parliamentarians. Along with Modi, around 230 members won a second term, totaling ten years as the ruling party.
This complex event was carried out by the Election Commission, an autonomous constitutional authority that ensures fair elections in the country. The competition was among 8,000 candidates who had filed nominations for 543 parliamentary seats, held in seven phases. This mammoth task of acquiring votes of over 900 million Indians from the nook and corner of the country was an expensive and lengthy process, lasting six weeks. Close to a million polling stations were installed with electronic voting machines. From the world’s highest polling station in Himachal Pradesh at 15,256 feet, all the way to remote regions in a national forest in Gujarat for one registered voter. Thus, many officials and security personnel were deployed to oversee the election with the highest voter turnout in India’s history.
The world’s largest election also meant a significant amount of money in campaigns and organization. Even though winning over vote banks with money or material was something of a norm in the country despite going against the code of conduct, raids from the Election Commission seized over 31 billion rupees-worth of liquor, cash, precious metals and narcotics during the election weeks. With no limitations on campaign expenditure coupled with the introduction of electoral bonds, sources vary in the estimation of how much campaigns cost during this election. The weeks of vote casting were filled with controversies, misinformation and constant breaking news. Arguably, drastic consequences from campaigning scuffles were the cancellation of elections at the Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu, and a polling deferment in parts of north-eastern Tripura.
Although the campaigns and the election itself were contentious and sensational, it ended with a sweeping win for the BJP and Narendra Modi, leading to record highs in the country’s stock exchange and strengthening the rupee.
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