It has only been 2 years since the last General Elections but considering the many developments in India’s dynamic political environment, the stage for the next General Elections in 2019 is already being set. Here are 7 trends that may be expected in the next Lok Sabha Elections and could possibly change the way Elections take place in India.
1. Emergence of National parties & new PM candidates
In the last year, several new players have emerged in India’s political scene. Parties like the Aam Aadmi Party, Janata Dal-United and AIADMK are looking to expand their influence from their regional strongholds to other parts of the country. Arvind Kejriwal has been very vocal in his attacks against PM Modi and many see this as a way of capitalising on anti-Modi factions in the society to present himself as a possible replacement.
JD (U)’s Nitish Kumar is looking to expand to Uttar Pradesh next year with an eye to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Many see his victory against the NDA in Bihar as a prelude to what may unfold in 2019. A surprise entry in this equation is the AIMDMK. The party has managed to retain power in the 2016 state elections and is expanding its influence to the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. This could be a step in the direction of establishing itself as a national party.
2. Diminished Indian National Congress
After holding the top spot in India’s political sphere for the last decade, the Congress suffered a historic defeat in the 2014 General Elections. In 2014, the party was in power in 14 states and now it has been reduced to 6, with Karnataka being the only ‘big’ state. The recent state elections in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Puducherry have led to further losses for the party, with the Union Territory of Puducherry being the only place they’ve managed to retain. The Indian National Congress of today is a shadow of its former self. The lack of a strong leader, a possible Prime Minister candidate, has also greatly hurt the party’s influence. Additionally, it still seems to be grappling with corruption allegations from the past, making it even more unfavourable.
3. Regional parties maintaining their strongholds
In various parts of the country, regional parties have managed to maintain their influence, even overcoming opposition from national parties like the BJP and INC. Realizing the power of regional parties, bigger national parties, as well as emerging parties like AAP and JD (U), are forming alliances with these regional parties to gain a political advantage. This could be something that may be a game changer in the 2019 General Elections.
4. Structured and organised campaigns
In the 2014 General Elections, Indian politics witnessed the emerging of a new trend that has since become very popular and that is of campaign strategists spearheading elections. People like Amit Shah, Prashant Kishore and Ahmed Patel have been instrumental in formulating more structured and focused campaigns for both the General and state elections.
5. Harnessing technology
The general population in India is becoming increasingly tech savvy. The number of Indians on social media has increased exponentially in the last 5 years. To reach as many people as possible, politicians have now shifted part of their campaigning online. In 2014, the BJP took campaigning to a whole new level by using holograms as a means of campaigning. On the other hand, even though the number of users in India has increased, a large part of the population still needs the products and infrastructure to access this new media. Therefore, political parties are adding technological development to their campaigning manifestos.
6. Evolved voter bases and better manifestos
The modern voter is better informed as he/she now has access to a plethora of information thanks to the Internet revolution. This has made the voting population more politically aware of what they expect from their government. In 2014, they were less tolerant to corruption and insisted on more transparency. They were not impressed with vote bank politics and preferred to vote for development-oriented candidates, as seen in the 2015 Bihar elections. This will force governments to formulate their manifestos differently in order to align themselves with the demands of the public.
7. Opposition to Hindutva politics
The BJP is often branded as a party that endorses the Hindutva ideology and supports extremist politics. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, their support base expanded, leading to a landslide victory. Now the biggest challenge faced by the party is to create a balance in ideology between their old and new voter bases. In the 2019 General Elections, the strongest anti-incumbency voice is likely to be that against the BJP’s alleged Hindutva objectives. The party will have to combat this dialogue without offending either support base.