Its election time in India. The first phase of polling has begun. This is the largest exercise of its kind in the world – the voter base is 650 million. Four phases of polling will elect 543 members of Parliament, with a few states also going to elect their legistlative assemblies. The interesting thing this time is that electronic voting machines are being used across the country. Counting begins on May 13, and results are expected within a day.
India Today and Outlook both have opinion poll results in their latest issues. Both predict a slim majority for the ruling NDA (BJP and its allies). The performance of the Congress is seen to be improving (as compared to a few months ago) after its various alliances, but it is unlikely that the alliance will be be able to muster up more than 165-170 seats. Coalition politics, which has been the norm in India for the past 8 years or so, is here to stay in India, with the BJP continuing to be the single largest party.