All you need to know about the General Elections 2014
All you need to know about the General Elections 2014
March 23, 2014
Elections are soul of Indian democracy
- CEC VS Sampath
The 2014 general elections will be the largest democratic event in the
history of the world, with around 814 million people (dwarfing the
combined electorates of the United States and Europe) being entitled to
vote to decide India’s 16th government.
This is 100 million more
than the 714 million eligible voters at the 2009 general elections, and
a sharp rise from the 176 million in the first parliamentary elections
Voters queued up to vote
The five-year term of the 15th Lok Sabha is due to expire on May 31, 2014. So the general elections, also termed parliamentary elections or Lok Sabha elections (as the elected members sit in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament), have to be held and results declared before that.
Election Commission of India (ECI) is the body which conducts any election in India.
ECI is led by a chief election commissioner (CEC) and two election commissioners (ECs).
The current CEC is VS Sampath.
Elections to the world’s largest democracy pose immense challenges with respect to logistics and man and material management and the Commission’s endeavour in this direction is to consult all stakeholders, invite inputs from all relevant departments/organisations and evolve a coordinated framework for the smooth delivery of the general elections.
The Commission is dedicated to the task of delivering free, fair and credible elections to the people. But to make democracy meaningful, there has to be maximum participation of the people in the electoral process. To make this a reality, the Election Commission, among other things, observes January 25 as National Voters’ Day. On this day, the Commission takes up various programmes to educate voters about their rights and duties, including a sustained SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) campaign.
The Election Commission has chosen five well-known faces in different fields as ‘national icons’ (that is, brand ambassadors) for the 2014 general election. They are actor Aamir Khan, former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Olympic medal-winning boxer MC Mary Kom, national cricket team captain MS Dhoni and badminton icon Saina Nehwal and. They will feature in audio-visual campaigns of the Election Commission aimed at educating voters about the importance of voting and choosing the right candidate.
The five 'national icons' - (L to R) Aamir Khan, APJ Abdul Kalam, MC Mary Kom, MS Dhoni, Saina Nehwal
Poll expense limits for candidates of Lok Sabha polls
The central government, on February 28, 2014, cleared a proposal of the Election Commission of India to raise expenditure limits for Lok Sabha elections to a maximum of Rs 70 lakh and a minimum of Rs 54 lakh per candidate, allowing candidates to spend more on their poll campaigns.
The north-eastern and hill states were brought on par with those in the plains and spending limit of their candidates was raised to Rs 54 lakh (from between Rs 35 lakh to Rs 27 lakh earlier), the lower limit in most of India.
The poll expenditure rates will go up from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh for each Lok Sabha constituency in bigger states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka.
The limit will go up from the present Rs 22 lakh in smaller states like Goa to Rs 54 lakh, on par with other hill and north-eastern states.
Among the union territories, the limit will go up from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 70 lakh in Delhi while it will be uniform at Rs 54 lakh for all other union territories.
As recommended by the Commission, the central government also raised the expenditure limits for assembly elections, with a maximum of Rs 28 lakh and a minimum of Rs 20 lakh in the north-eastern and hill states.
The limit for Delhi assembly elections is proposed to be raised to Rs 28 lakh from Rs 14 lakh at present and Rs 20 lakh for Puducherry from Rs 8 lakh.
According to JNU’s Centre for Media Studies,
politicians will spend as much as $4.9 billion during the electoral
contest, which will end in May. The estimate makes this year’s general
elections the second most expensive of all time, behind only the 2012 US
presidential campaign in which, according to the US presidential
commission, $7 billion was spent.
Logo of Election Commission of India
THE NUMBERS GAME
The sheer scale of the electoral exercise is unprecedented.
543 – Lok Sabha seats to be contested
272 seats constitute a majority
814 million – Estimated eligible voters, the world’s largest electorate. This is almost two-thirds of India’s population, and almost 100 million more than in 2009.
About 426.6 million are men, 387.9 million are women and 28,314 are transgender voters. Among these, 11,844 are non-resident Indians registered to vote. Since India does not allow citizens who live abroad to mail in ballots, they would have to travel to their constituencies.
24 million – Voters aged 18 to 19 eligible to vote for the first time (one can vote from the age of 18) in an election in which social media and internet-based campaigning faces its first big electoral test
9 – Polling days
5 – Weeks over which polling would be spread
930,000 – Polling booths
1.7 million – Electronic voting machines (EVMs) to be used
11 million – Personnel, including members of the army, to be deployed to assist with the elections
5.5 million – Civilians to be employed to manage the voting process (including school teachers and state and central government employees)
The 2014 vote marks several major firsts for India
Thanks to a change newly available during the Delhi state elections last December, voters at the national level will now have the option of selecting ‘none of the above’ (NOTA), allowing them to reject parliamentary candidates for the first time.
Observers will also be studying the impact of the youth vote and technology. 24 million voters aged 18 to 19 will be polling for the first time in an election in which social media and internet-based campaigning faces its first electoral test.
The NOTA button on an EVM
THE POLITICAL PARTIES
India has over 1500 claimed political parties
Of these, 6 are recognised as national parties
An additional 47 are recognised as state parties
39 parties are currently present in India’s 15th Parliament
No party has won a simple majority in India since 1989, ensuring that
coalitions have played a major role in legislative politics.
An EVM consists of a ballot unit and a control unit
Electronic voting machines
Electronic voting machines (EVMs), now mandatory in any election in India, were first used during the elections to the Kerala Legislative Assembly in May 1982, in 50 polling stations of Parur Assembly constituency, to start with.
Thereafter, these machines were used in 1982-83 in 10 other constituencies spread over the length and breadth of India.
After suitable improvements, made as a result of the experiences gained from the earlier elections mentioned above, the Election Commission ultimately finalised the design and model of the existing electronic voting machines in May 1989.
These new ones were used on an experimental basis for the first time in 16 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh (5), Rajasthan (5) and Delhi (6) in Assembly elections in November 1998.
EVMs have been devised and designed by the Election Commission in
collaboration with two public sector undertakings, viz., Bharat
Electronics Ltd., Bangalore and Electronic Corporation of India Ltd.,
Another important aspect of elections in India is the indelible ink put on the fingers of voters. Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd. (MVPL), a public sector unit, is the only company mandated by the Election Commision to manufacture this special type of ink.
The process of manufacturing the ink is a closely guarded secret and is based on a chemical formula devised by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), with whom the patent of the product also rests.
The ink was used for the first time in the Lok Sabha election in 1962 and has since been used in every Parliamentary election and almost every Assembly and local election.
Each bottle can mark 700 fingers.
The ink cannot be erased or washed away and takes about 20 days to fade.
As the largest state, Uttar Pradesh receives the maximum quantity while the smallest amount goes to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
In 1978, MVPL was asked to export its poster product to Singapore.
MPVL now exports indelible ink to more than 25 countries.
Indelible ink being manufactured at MVPL
The 2014 general election will be one of the greatest milestones in India’s democratic history. Polling begins on April 7 and ends on May 12, with the final votes counted on May 16.
POLL DAY DATE OF POLL NUMBER OF STATES & UTs NUMBER OF PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES
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