Winds of change

Who will be the winner? Well, it may be advantage BJP, but it's too early to predict the outcome

The Election Commission of India yesterday set the dates for the largest democratic exercise on Earth, in which more than 800 million people will cast ballots between April 7 and May 12. This massive enterprise will reinforce the fact that India’s democracy is alive and kicking.

Indian elections are always entertaining, and this should not be an exception. With Narendra Modi, a former teaboy, pitted against ­Rahul Gandhi, the Harvard- and Cambridge-educated scion of India’s most notable political dynasty and Congress party candidate, this battle will be one of contrasts. The question is, who will be the winner?

If polls are to be believed, Mr Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state and the candidate of the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, is the top choice among voters. The reasons are obvious: not only is Mr Gandhi a political novice, but the current Congress-led government, headed by the economist Manmohan Singh, has miserably failed to stem the tide of corruption.

That said, it would be imprudent to predict the outcome. The BJP suffered heavy blows in the 2004 and 2009 elections despite opinion polls predicting its victory. So, the element of surprise in the form of another Gandhi victory cannot entirely be ruled out.

Published: March 5, 2014 04:00 AM