Elections in India
Elections in India are the largest democratic electoral exercise in the world. Results of these elections are followed closely as they have a direct bearing on the lives of the country's over 1.3 billion population.
The government of India is based on Federalism. There are 3 levels where elected officials can be appointed: state, federal and local levels. Election Commission of India is the apex body which oversees all the matters related to elections.
The Parliament of India has 2 houses: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The members of Lok Sabha elect the Prime Minister of the country. It is also known as lower house. And comprises a total of 552 members. From states, 530 members are selected, while 20 members in the Lok Sabha represent the union territories. Two of the members are chosen from the Anglo Indian community by the President. The members of the Lok Sabha are elected every 5 years.
Earlier, in 1952, there were a total of 1874 candidates contesting for seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of candidates vying for the seat rose to 13952 in 1996 and in 2009, there were 8070 candidates.
For the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the expenditure was about Rs 37.5 crore. The election was conducted in a total of 9 stages. The cost per voter was estimated to be Rs 17. Votes were cast using EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines). In the 2014 general elections, BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) secured 282 seats and rose to power. Narendra Modi then became the Prime Minister of India.
While Lok Sabha is called the lower house, the upper house of Parliament is called Rajya Sabha. It consists of 250 members which are elected from states' legislative assemblies and the Electoral College of Union Territories. The tenure for the Rajya Sabha is 6 years and comprises 238 members. After two years, one-third of the members retire. Twelve members from different fields, like scientists, artists, sports personality, journalists, businessmen, jurists and more, are also nominated.
Right To Vote
The Constituent Assembly adopted the principle of universal adult franchise as the main method of democratic representation in the Lok Sabha and in the State Legislative Assemblies. The original Article 326, providing for adult suffrage fixed the age of eligibility to vote for elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas, at 21 years, but by the 61st Amendment to this clause passed in 1989, it has been reduced to 18 years.
Election Process in India
In an election, various candidates of different parties contest against each other, out of which the people elect their representative. The stages of the election process of India include delimitation of constituencies wherein the entire area (the whole country in the case of Lok Sabha elections and that particular state in the case of Legislative Assembly elections) is divided into constituencies. After the demarcation of constituency, the voters' list of each constituency is prepared and published and nomination papers are filed by the candidates. Thereafter, nomination papers are scrutinised. The next stage is the campaign by all the candidates and the parties. The election campaign ends 48 hours before the polling. The last step is the counting of votes and declaration of result.
Political Parties in India
A political party is a group of people who want to achieve common goals by contesting elections and exercising political power upon winning. India has a multi-party system. Some of the major political parties in India are: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Janata Dal United (JDU), Shiv Sena. There are also various regional parties in India.