The Battle of Seventy Chairs

Dilli shahar. Legend has it that it was inhabited three thousand years before Christ although it became the capital of modern India only about a hundred years ago in 1911. An inscription from the era of Emperor Ashoka (273-235 BC) was found in 1966 near Srinivaspuri, which means “the place where God resides.” It’s close to where I went for math tuition. Today, 11 million people live in the city making it the second most populous in India. These people are divided into 70 Vidhan Sabha constituencies. A few hundred people and three major parties will aspire to rule Delhi for the next five years, although the last government only lasted 49 days. That is less than the duration of ten fully played test cricket matches. Less than a day per member of the Vidhan Sabha.

The Delhi junta will go in to cast their votes on the 7th of February. Its a Saturday, my favorite day. The Delhi winter will be on its way out and I can imagine a day of mild sunshine with the subtle promise of spring. Polls are showing that people are likely to choose between the BJP and the AAP with the Congress lagging far behind. In the previous elections in December 2013, the Congress lost 35 of its 43 incumbent seats. An 81% decrease. The last time I saw an 81% decrease was when my friend had to repeat class XI.

Campaign strategy has been interesting. The AAP has pursued an aggressive campaign led by party convener Arvind Kejriwal both on the ground and social media with an agenda consisting of corruption in the power sector, resettlement of displaced colonies and a dialogue on health and education. No mention of Lokpal. The BJP seems ambivalent about wanting to ride the Modi wave in Delhi. In a dramatic tweak in strategy, they have brought Kiran Bedi into the fray as their candidate for the Chief Minister position. Kiran Bedi has exalted the “leadership qualities” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in her move to join the party. In another exciting election development, Shazia Ilmi who had previously defected from the AAP following their abysmal showing in the Lok Sabha elections has joined the BJP proclaiming that “it is time to go beyond identity based politics.” AAP member Vinod Kumar Binny who had become disgruntled with the party earlier has also moved to the BJP along with former Congress party minister Krishna Tirath. On another note, composer Anand Raaj Anand has also joined the BJP. Remember the song Maahi Ve with Malaika Arora rocking the poles? That was him.

To counter those acquisitions by the BJP, there is movement the other way into the AAP. For example, Ved Prakash who is contesting the elections in Bawana on an AAP ticket, was earlier a member of the BJP. Other examples include S.K Bagga (Krishna Nagar) from the Congress, Kartar Singh (Chattarpur) from the BJP and Sharad Chauhan (Narela) from the BSP. The AAP is fielding a candidate in every single constituency. The Congress party has released 49 names and the BJP is yet to release any.

The stage is set for a showdown in Delhi. A win for the BJP will give them unprecedented authority in the country and a win for the AAP will create a counterpoint to the Narendra Modi government at the center. A win for the Congress will create history of a different sort by putting most pollsters out of business. Exciting times lie ahead.

Saif Ali
Team Netapedia

Mahabharata relevance in Maharashtra…

The age old saying in Mahabharata states that there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics. From Mahabharata to Maharashtra, it continues to remain contemporary as the state assembly elections and the prior and subsequent events since then have become a case study on the same. The battleground saw the breakdown of the 25 year old relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena while the ties between Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party snapped almost around the same day. The split ensued a four way vote distribution as the state went to elections with BJP securing the maximum number of seats of 122 eventually out of the total 288.

Shiv Sena went on to finish second with 63 seats and with the anti-incumbency trend continuing Congress and NCP finished at third and fourth largest positions with 42 and 41 seats respectively. The results saw yet another round of coalition and berth sharing talks but failed to yield any significant outcomes. Additionally, the elections were fraught with regional divisiveness including the demand for a separate state of Vidarbha.

It is also interesting to note that while BJP’s ally for years, Shiv Sena is trying to play hard on alliance with BJP, the NCP has gone on to give outside support to BJP. Consequently, Shiv Sena, has occupied the opposition benches with BJP resolutely refusing to cave in to the Sena’s demands. During the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis, which was held at Wankhede Stadium with PM Narendra Modi also being present, Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena made a last minute appearance though on a personal invitation from BJP chief Amit Shah, while the other Sena leaders chose to boycott the same owing to the talks failing. However, that was seen by many as possibility of the coalition being restored as well. The other Thackeray scion, Raj Thackeray and his party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also failed to make a mark in the just concluded elections by winning just one seat.

The very choice of Devendra Fadnavis is seen as an indicator of the possibility of the creation of the state of Vidarbha. Vidarbha continues to be a major political and emotional touchpoint as the western Maharashtra region continues to be a region of low economic growth, high farmer suicides and extreme poverty. Many in the political fraternity believe that creating a separate state comprising that region with Nagpur as its capital could possibly develop the region. Devendra Fadnavis himself hails from the Nagpur South West constituency and is the second youngest person to have ever occupied the office of Chief Minister of Maharashtra and is the first BJP CM from the state. Due to the absence of clear majority in the assembly, the BJP government was put through a vote of confidence which it went on to win narrowly on 12th November thereby making it eligible to govern the state. Initially, the BJP had the support of 135 MLAs including other allies such the MNS and independents with NCP choosing to abstain from the vote of confidence. Eventually, the speaker Haribhau Bagde chose to obtain a voice vote of confidence rather than the traditional voting and soon the BJP was declared the winner by the speaker with the NCP choosing to vote for the government while Shiv Sena and Congress going against the government. Choice of voice vote as a medium for trust vote was not accepted by the opposition and many in the political class. Post vote, the CM and the other ministers addressed a joint session of both the houses. This led to a series of protests by the Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs who were agitated by the controversial trust vote. The subsequent inappropriate behaviour led to the suspension of 5 MLAs of Congress party.

With no further traction seen in the Sena-BJP talks at this point and Congress looking at the possibility of heading the opposition, the Shiv Sena decided to stake its claim to the position of leader of opposition in the 288 member house nominating the Thane MLA Eknath Shinde for the same. The outside support given to the current government by the NCP in a very shrewd political move as it saw its own poll fortunes dwindle while its old ally, the Congress was decimated due to the anti-incumbency wave. The move itself is seen by many as NCP’s way to stay relevant and afloat with the changing political scene in the state. In the strictest sense, the two largest parties being on opposite sides is common in most political establishments but it is not often that they happened to be allies until 2 months back. Uddhav Thackeray could have been the kingmaker but has considerably lost his advantage with all cards of all parties on the table especially with the NCP giving the outside support to the current government. Any substantial dent may no longer be possible but changes could still happen that might change the current scenario should there be further alliances or U-turns. How the old friend now turned foe by being in the opposition, is going to really turn out, only time will tell.

Maharashtra was often seen as a cut and dry higher ground when it came to its elections and alliances but the just concluded elections showed tectonic shifts in the very nature of its politics. Despite the vote of confidence and a seeming sense of stability, at its very core is a sense of volatility that is neither fully understood or repaired by any of the major political players in the state of Maharashtra and the whole episode is making Veda Vyasa more contemporary than ever before. We would love to hear about your feedback on the blog and Maharashtra Elections of 2014.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

General Elections: old order changeth yielding place to new

As netapedia goes into into its upgraded version, we the netapedia team, are here with our feature on the version 16.0 of the most important team in this country-the Lok Sabha.

16th May, 2014 produced an unprecedented if not an unexpected election result with the Bharatiya Janata Party emerging as a single largest party with the National Democratic Alliance winning 333 seats out of the 543. Leading a successful, US presidential style campaign, Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi became the 15th Prime Minister of India. The incumbent Indian National Congress managed to win only 44 seats which is its most abysmal performance ever. Although INC is technically the runner-up in these elections, it has less than 10% of the house and its stake to the claim of Leader of Opposition is being contested.

The 16th Lok Sabha(LS) elections and their results became one of the most followed across the country and the world and went on to become an election of many firsts. As we explore the same, let’s look into the important events that occurred in these elections.
BJP swept all the contested seats in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, National Capital Territory of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. The cleansweep results combined with their performance across all states led to the loss of the minimum security deposit of 85% of the candidates who contested.

It is the first time in 30 years, a party has received a clear majority enough to form a stable government without any allies and support. In the year 1984, Indian National Congress went to win 414 seats after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Interestingly, it was in 1984 when BJP contested its first LS polls and won only 2 seats and have improved their personal record by whopping 140 times since then by winning 282 seats. This extraordinary feat is primarily attributed to the state of Uttar Pradesh which has the maximum number of LS constituencies. The BJP won 71 seats and its ally Apna Dal won 2 seats giving the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) 73 out of 80 seats-clear example of the anti-incumbency wave that marked the elections. Of the remaining 7 seats, 2 were the traditionally Congress supporting Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies won by Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi respectively. Mulayam Singh Yadav won 2 seats of which he resigned from his Manipuri seat. The bypolls will be held later to determine the final MP from the constituency while his nephews and daughter-in-law won the other 3 seats from UP. With the total tally, in another first, UP is not sending any muslim candidate to the lower house of parliament.

A similar trend was also observed in the state of Madhya Pradesh with 29 LS constituencies. BJP won 27 seats and the remaining 2 seats, Guna and Chhindwara, were won by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath respectively, from the Indian Nation Congress. Chhindwara happens to have voted for Congress for the last 15 years.

It was somewhat a mixed result for the regional parties. On the upside, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu were completely swept by the respective regional parties, All India Trinamool Congress(AITC) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(AIADMK). While AITC won 34 out of the 42 LS seats, AIADMK went to the next level by winning 37 seats thereby making it the party with 3rd highest number seats in LS after BJP and INC. On the down side, Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) suffered in ignominy after failing to get a single seat in its home turf of Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, the Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD) and Janata Dal (united) (JD (U)) performed dismally by clinching only 4 and 2 seats respectively.

In terms of choices available to the voters, these general elections saw the introduction of the “none of the above” (NOTA) option in the electronic voting machines. This option was to be exercised by the voter when he/she felt no candidate was fit to be elected. With the idea of being more inclusive, transgenders could fill in the option “others” in the electoral rolls, which was not available during the 2009 elections.

Overall, the people of India have given a clear mandate after three decades. With the promise of “acchche din”, we the people, continue to hope that our choice brings what we need and what we deserve.

We would like to hear what you have to say about the General Elections 2014! Please leave your comments here or mail us at

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

Game Changer-Delhi Elections 2013

This time around Delhi election results will be awaited by as many enthusiasts as were seen on Sachin Tendulkar’s final match. In the recent past, State and municipal elections used to be an intensely local affair. But in this hyper-connected age, they have found a way out of the provincial cocoon, spreading the anxiety across the entire nation. Social media has become the favorite channel where people come together to share their views and openly discuss/argue on politics. The political parties too have embraced social media to target people of all age groups where they are extensively advertising, putting information of their party, agenda, manifestos, and campaigns, all of this, online.
Apart from the awareness factor, there are more fascinating reasons which are keeping people yearning for the elections.
After 15 years of Congress rule and a weak opposition in the form of BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party has been an exciting new effort in Indian politics. The media calls the Delhi elections a three way race between Congress, BJP and AAP. The emergence of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from a transmuted movement led by Anna Hazare into an aspiring political formation, has given a relieving alternative to the people of Delhi, who seem to leaning on it slowly.

The advent of the AAP was followed by a directive from the Supreme Court to allow voters to register discontent, not just by abstaining from voting but by marking a ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) choice on the ballot paper. This will make it possible to assess what percentage of the electorate feels disenfranchised by the choice of parties and candidates on offer. The ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option will be printed in pink on EVMs/ballot papers for the upcoming Assembly polls in five states although for the Lok Sabha elections next year, it will appear in white (The reason being that the ballot paper for Lok Sabha polls is also printed in white). Making the NOTA symbol public, Election Commission said its depiction was approved as a rectangle with rounded corners on a black background on which NOTA is written in capital letters in English. EC has already clarified that the candidate securing the highest number of votes would be declared elected even if the number of electors going for the NOTA option surpassed the votes polled by the contestants.
A total of 11 crore voters in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram will use the option of “None of the Above” for the first time ever in the December elections.

Since it is election time in Delhi, all political parties have of course, decided to target voters on the issues that matter most. But election manifestos are arguably more interesting this time since they have less headline-making promises in them. Lets take a look at who are the three main contenders and what promises each of them have to make.

Candidate Name: Harsh Vardhan
Political party: BJP
Born: December 13, 1954
Son of: Second child of late Om Prakash Goel and Snehlata Devi,
Constituency: Krishna Nagar constituency in east Delhi
Education: Anglo-Sanskrit Victoria Jubilee Senior Secondary School in Daryaganj,
MBBS and MS with specialisation in ENT from GSVM Medical College, Kanpur
Profession: ENT surgeon, joined the Indian Medical Association’s Delhi Chapter
Political Tenure:
Fondly called ‘Dr Sahab’, Harsh Vardhan is Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Chief Ministerial candidate. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist by profession, Vardhan entered the political circles in 1993 and was elected from Krishna Nagar constituency in east Delhi. The charismatic leader continued to hold on to that seat in the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Assembly Elections. A modest leader, Vardhan held various portfolios, including education, law and health in the BJP government.

BJP Manifesto:

1. Set up cold storages to ensure timely and adequate availability of fruits and vegetables.
2. Introduce a common smart card for use across all modes of public transport.
3. Ensure lifelong availability of essential drugs.
4. Introduce a private OPD service in all government hospitals by specialists (government doctors).
5. 85% seats in Delhi colleges reserved for Delhiites. Alternatively, Delhiites to be given 4% concession in marks. Applicable to all those who (irrespective of origin) pass senior secondary exams in Delhi.
6. Introduce a parking master plan.
7. Facilitate working capital from the Delhi Finance Corporation to help women entrepreneurs.
8. Introduce special provisions for students from north-east states: a 24- hour helpline and special arrangements at police stations. Encourage local guardianship for them.
9. Extend public library system to far flung areas of Delhi.
10. Implement a mono-rail system in Delhi and expand coaches in the Delhi Metro.
11. Have single-window clearance to set up any new business.
12. Take steps to expand availability of domestic help and reduce their exploitation by introducing special training centres. Similar centres to be introduced for drivers too.

Candidate Name: Sheila Dikshit
Political party: Indian National Congress
Born: 31 March 1938
Spouse of : Late Vinod Dikshit from Unnao District (Unnao)
Constituency: New Delhi constituency
Education: Convent of Jesus and Mary School in New Delhi
Master of Arts degree in history from the Miranda House at the University of Delhi.
Post held: Chief Minister of Delhi since 1998
Political Tenure:
During the period between 1984 and 1989, she represented Kannauj Parliamentary Constituency of Uttar Pradesh. She represented India at United Nations Commission on Status of Women for five years (1984–1989). She was shortlisted for the 2008 World Mayor award. As Chief Minister of Delhi, Dikshit was awarded the Best Chief Minister of India, by Journalist Association of India on 12 July 2008. In 2009, she was awarded Politician of the Year by NDTV.Chief Minister of Delhi Smt.Sheila Dikshit also Awarded for Delhi Women of the Decade Achievers Awards 2013, ASSOCHAM Ladies League for Outstanding Public Service. Dikshit is the longest serving Chief Minister of Delhi having been elected for three consecutive terms starting in 1998. As of Nov 2013, she has served for nearly 15 years as the Chief Minister of Delhi.

Congress Manifesto:

1. Recommend expanding the number of seats in evening colleges in Delhi university by 30%.
2. Set up a University of Health Sciences with five medical colleges.
3. Extend Ladli Scheme for college girls by providing additional financial assistance of Rs 50,000.
4. Open creches for children of working women.
5. Set up exclusive child-friendly courts.
6. Expand coverage to provide sanitary napkins to under-privileged women at an affordable cost.
7. Build more toilets for women — initial target of 20 per Vidhan Sabha constituency.
8. Provide eye testing and spectacles to senior citizens and orthopaedic support equipment at subsidised rates.
9. Construct over 10 old-age homes.
10. Grant an option to private schools to operate second shifts, thus creating 25% more seats in first three years.
11. Set up a central parking authority.
12. Open Dilli Haat at Janakpuri and Mayur Vihar.

Candidate Name: Arvind Kejriwal
Political party: Aam Aadmi Party
Born: 16 August 1968
Son of: Gobind Ram Kejriwal and Gita Devi
Constituency: New Delhi Constituency
Education: Mechanical engineering at IIT Kharagpur; Indian Revenue Service later in 1995 after qualifying through the Civil Services Examination
Profession: From 1989-1992 he worked for Tata Steel; Joint Commissioner in the Income Tax Department till February 2006
Political Tenure:
Kejriwal established the Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012. The party name — Aam Aadmi Party — reflects the phrase Aam Aadmi, or “common man”, whose interests Kejriwal proposed to represent. The party was formally launched in Delhi on 26 November 2012.The party’s first electoral test is the Delhi legislative assembly elections on 4 December 2013. He has also become one of the five most mentioned Indian politician on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
On 16 November 2013, Kejriwal filed his nomination papers from the New Delhi Assembly constituency under the Aam Aadmi Party banner. Among those contesting the seat is Sheila Dikshit, a three-time Chief Minister of Delhi

AAP Manifesto:

1. Create special mohalla sabhas in each neighbourhood. The sabhas will have greater say over public improvement works, upkeep of parks and waste management
2. Introduce open access in electricity distribution for Delhi residents — consumers can choose which distribution company to buy power from.
3. Special force to be set up for security of women, children and old across all municipal wards.
4. Introduce laws regulating pay and working hours and conditions of domestic workers.
5. To set up a unified transport authority for all modes of public transport.
6. To take steps to end construction and encroachment in the Delhi ridge.
7. To open a public library in each Assembly constituency.
8. To set up a special cell in chief minister’s office to track implementation of the party’s promises.
9. Urdu and Punjabi to get status of second language in Delhi.
10. Make government buildings disabled friendly.
11. Give greater power to the animal welfare board to take care of strays.
12. To encourage adoption of solar power.
Having listed the agendas of the three dominant parties contesting for the Delhi Assembly elections 2013, let’s wait to see who could capture the Delhi-ites needs the most and whose claims stand the tallest!

Now we take a look into the polling trend of the last Delhi Assembly elections held in 2008. Over 60% of 1.5 crore electorate exercised their franchise in a keenly fought Delhi Assembly elections which saw stray incidents of violence but remained by and large peaceful. Preliminary information suggests that the highest and lowest turnouts were in two constituencies of south-west Delhi with 63% and 55% respectively. There was a quantum jump in the polling percentage in the year 2008 compared to that of 53.4% in 2003 and 49% in 1998. In 1993 when Delhi faced the first elections, the polling percentage was 61.8%. With the kind of interest that 2013’s Delhi assembly elections have generated and the rising polling percentages in assembly elections across the country over the past few years, it is expected that this year’s polling will prove to be landmark day in the history of Delhi, as far as voter turnout is concerned.

Its important to realize that each one of our vote is important- to build a kind of state that we want and which would determine what our lives would be like. If you think that you would have surely voted if there were better choices to vote for, then this time you have the option of marking a NOTA. The simple act of casting vote will guarantee you are someone who takes the responsibility of making our country a better nation, the kind of nation which India deserves to be.

We would like to hear what you have to say about the Delhi elections 2013! Please leave your comments here or mail us at

Kriti Sarda
Team Netapedia