Friday, December 28, 2012

Assembly Elections in Gujarat are decisive for India’s future

Narendra Modi. Photo: Yahoo! News.

Voters in the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh closed the Indian electoral calendar this year with the election of their legislative state assemblies in December. Gujarat’s election was particularly noteworthy, as BJP candidate Narendra Modi was seeking his third consecutive term in office as chief minister. 

More than 71% of Gujarat's 40 million eligible voters cast their ballots, which shows the great interest citizens have taken in deciding the fate of their country. Since 2007, voter turnout has been in the rise in the South Asian nation, as Indians now believe that locally made decisions contribute greatly to the robustness of the country. In a large and diverse country, the idea of nationhood comprising regional parties with their own cultures is “far better than trying to impose everything from the center”, says Yogendra Yadav, election analyst. This idea underlines the importance of this year’s assembly elections, as Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi is forging his way from the Gujarat assembly all the way up to the Prime Minister’s seat. 

With almost 50% of the votes, Modi was denied the landslide victory he was seeking, but he was nonetheless named Gujarat’s chief minister for the third time in a row. His party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), obtained 115 out of 182 seats in the assembly. Mr. Modi has been ruling the state since 2001, and this renewed appointment at the assembly paves the way for him to run for Prime Minister in 2014. Although not everyone agrees with the progress that has characterized his government —the modernization of infrastructure has been a key point in his mandate—, his repeated victory proves that he could have a great chance to propagate the renovation policies implemented in Gujarat over the rest of India. 

Speaking of modernization, it is worth mentioning that India has been using voting technology since 1999, which makes democracy highly efficient for a country with about one billion people and hundreds of millions of votes to tally. Incidentally, Gujarat was the first state to experiment with Internet voting in 2011.