The first phase of a giant general election has kicked off in India. Around 814 million people are eligible to cast their votes in what is being described as the world’s largest election. It is certainly going to last a long time: voting will be staggered over the next month, only ending on 12th May and being counted on 16th May.
The main protagonists are the incumbent Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi, and the Hindu nationalist BJP opposition. Hot topics are the country’s stubbornly high inflation rate and corruption. The anti-corruption party AAP is expected to mount a strong challenge to the main parties.
The electorate has grown by around 100 million people since the last elections, most of them first time voters, leading experts to predict that the Gandhi dynasty, represented by Rahul Gandhi, may finally be about to fall out of power.
Political Analysist Shand Siddiqui, said: “Today nearly 70 – 80% of voters are below the age of 35 years and those voters arenot attracted to Rahul Gandhi. So, Rahul Gandhi, as the leader of a dynasty of Congress, the dynasty which has led Congress for 60 years, seems to be failing and the Congress dynasty seems to be withering away.”
The main issue concerning Indian voters is the economy, with many people being concerned by a slowdown in growth. Reflecting this, the governing Congress party has promised “inclusive growth” if it returns to power. It has also promised a raft of welfare schemes, including healthcare for all and pensions for the aged and disabled.