Indian Elections, A Brief Primer
This spring India goes to the polls to elect representatives to the Lok Sabha or the lower house of the parliament. As always, the party or the coalition with the most votes in the Lok Sabha will choose the next Prime Minister. Since the nineties no single party has won an outright majority. Coalition governments, headed either by the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been the norm.
The Major Players: The Parties and Their Leaders
The current ruling coalition is led by the Congress, India’s oldest party, predating independence. In its current form, it is but a shell of its venerable past. Since the seventies it has been reduced to being one family’s fiefdom with no internal democracy. The opposition is lead by the Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP. The party with fascist leanings and an ugly us-versus-them rhetoric rose to prominence in the nineties following its agitation to build a temple in Ayodhya. Lastly, the new kid on the block is the Aam Aadmi Party* (AAP) which swept into power in Delhi State elections held recently. Their sole focus, so far as I can tell, seems to be corruption.
Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress, and the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi** family , is a political cipher with no experience to speak of. The BJP’s Narendra Modi has experience in spades, ten years as a chief minister of Gujarat, and also a past that is a cause for much concern. Lastly, there is the AAP’s leader Arvind Kejriwal, who resigned just 49 days after taking office as the Chief Minister of Delhi. He seems to be more into street theater than actual governing. Stay tuned for further developments.
*Aam Aadmi means common man in Hindi
**no relation to Mohandas Gandhi.