Indian Elections 2024: Everything you need to know

On Friday 19 April 2024, the next Indian election process commences, with the announcement of the winners on Tuesday 4 June. It not only embodies the selection of new leaders but will address fundamental socio-political challenges for one of the world’s superpowers. This election will take place against the backdrop of global uncertainty. Issues such as climate change, public health, economic stability and social justice will all play a role in influencing policy and voter sentiment.

In the middle of this electoral battle are the stakeholders, a plethora of political parties with unique visions for the future of India; candidates range from mainstay officials looking for re-election, those who look to challenge and aim for reform, as well as newcomers bringing fresh perspectives. All competing for public trust.

The current political landscape

The political parties in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, (Lok Sabha being the lower house of India’s bicameral parliament), have already engaged in significant use of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technology to reach and influence public vote.

These technological advances have been seen in campaigns to target specific demographics. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP or Indian People’s Party) has been championing these developments by using them to create legitimate deepfake videos of leaders speaking multiple Indian dialects/languages in order to appeal to a wider demographic. They even use 3D hologram projections of Prime Minister Narenda Modi to campaign simultaneously in different locations.

However, the rise in AI usage has raised ethical concerns as late iconic leaders have been resurrected in lifelike videos invoking nostalgia and personal appeal. The people, however, question the electoral integrity, potential for disinformation and political division.

The stakeholders and their positions

There are presently two primary party alliances: the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the opposition Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). The BJP – which leads the NDA – is looking to continue its governance with Modi as its prime candidate. Under Modi’s rule, the BJP has remained in power since the 2014 elections. The BJP is known for focusing on economic reform, national security and Hindutva, the establishment of Hinduism as the dominant culture in India.

On the opposing side is the INDIA alliance, controlled by the Indian National Congress (INC), which houses 26 political entities to include large regional parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), set to challenge the NDA’s dominance. The INC, led by Rahul Gandhi, is promoting a unified opposition to address issues like economic disparity, unemployment and secularism.

The volume of eligible Indian voters from various ethnicities and societal backgrounds is immense, with approximately 968 million voters. This includes a significant number of first-time voters. Voter concerns predominantly surround economic growth, healthcare access, social media influence on discourse and, of course, corruption. India’s tech savvy youth are aware and adept in influencing public opinion through misinformation via social media platforms. 

Critical issues at stake

Geopolitics

The 2024 elections are dominated by several critical issues that polarise public opinion and considerably influence the electoral process. High inflation, unemployment and incremental growth lead a list of concerns that will have to be addressed by the new government’s policies.

Security – Physical

National security, in particular regarding terrorism, cross-border infiltration, the Kashmir conflict, and border skirmishes with neighbouring China, remain critical evaluation points.

Security – Online Chinese misinformation campaigns

Modern times have brought new concerns surrounding social media and a highly connected world where misinformation campaigns from enemy states can be delivered to a victim’s smartphone screens in seconds. China has the ability to implement sophisticated campaigns which are quite capable of manipulating public opinion and sowing mistrust. The devastating effects of such campaigns must not be taken lightly. There is a critical need for vigilance during this time to maintain fairness and to uphold the integrity of the election process.

Conclusion: Analysis and potential outcomes

There is no doubt that the 2024 Indian elections will be a significant turning point, with current data suggesting dominance by ruling NDA and Modi’s BJP party. Polls by India TV-CNX and News18 in April 2024 forecast the NDA winning by more than 400 seats, which indicates a landslide victory.

These outcomes could, however, be subject to change depending on the direction chosen by the undecided voters and key swing states/districts. This area of unpredictability might narrow the leading party’s margin if opposition campaigns prove effective, especially in non-BJP strongholds in the south and east of India. This being said, recent surveys have indicated widespread satisfaction of around 67% with the current Modi administration.

Post-election scenario predictions suggest a smooth continuation of NDA policies given recent polls, yet, while this is a democratic election, unforeseen variables could come in to play that are capable of influencing outcomes and creating discord.

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