Cricketer Gautam Gambhir Projected to win Elections
Cricketer Gautam Gambhir has decided to put an early end to his cricketing career by entering the political fray as a candidate for the nationalist BJP in East Delhi constituency in the capital city New Delhi. This writer projects him to win in a competitive contest.
Voting is Sunday from 7 AM to 6 PM. Unlike in Guyana and the Caribbean, voting is with machines rather than paper ballots. However, there is a paper trail and machine ballots will be verified through a sampling method of about two percent of the votes. Over fourteen millions are entitled to cast votes in Sunday’s elections in New Delhi for seven seats. Turnout is expected around 64%.
As this writer observed, there were long queues of voters in Delhi in the early morning as voters sought to beat the mercury that will hit 100 degrees mid day. Other states are also voting today in the sixth phase of balloting. Because of geographic diversity and size of the voting population, some 970 million voters, balloting has been spread over seven phases for 543 seats. Only one phases remains after today (Sunday).
Aside from Delhi, voters are casting ballots in 52 other seats spread over six states. Other states have completed their balloting. The final phase in the election will see Prime Minister Modi contesting from Varanasi on May 19. This writer projects a landslide victory for Modi in his seat.
Former cricketer Kirti Azad is also in the election fray as a candidate for Congress. Azad was a MP for BJP but broke with the party. He could lose his seat. Several Bollywood personalities are also contesting for the major parties including Satrughan Sinha and his wife, Poonam. Satrughan was a BJP MP but broke with the party and is contesting on a Congress ticket; his wife is contesting on a Yadav caste ticketing prestigious Lucknow constituency although she is notfrom the Yadav caste. Both husband and wife are projected to lose because of their defection from the BJP. One of Dharmendras son is also contesting a seat and is projected to win.
Cricketer Gambhir’s sports friends came out early to cast their ballots. No privileges are accorded any voter and everyone must follow procedures. Virat Kohli was seen at the polling station early Sunday.
As in Guyana, public schools and colleges are used as polling stations. Schools have been closed in the last couple days to facilitate preparation for the balloting. Unlike in Guyana, private homes are not used as polling stations. Unlike in Guyana, there is no electoral fraud and rigging. The election commission is completely neutral and has the power to scold candidates and even punish them for violating model conduct of conduct. They can also be fined. If a candidate goes over the threshold expenditure, even if elected, he or she forfeits the seat. The election commission rejects financial accounts of parties and candidates and makes its own estimate of money spent on a campaign.
As in Guyana and the Caribbean, campaigning is not allowed for some 24 hours before voting begins. Also, liquor is not allowed to be sold or served for almost 72 hours until the election ends at 6 PM.
Opinion polls, including exit polls, have been prohibited from a day before the first phase of election on April 11 till 6 PM on May 19. Early poll suggest closes contest for the seven seats in Delhi. This writer projects a victory for Gambhir who is facing two very popular candidates representing the AAP and Congress Party; AAP controls the state but has been liked to corruption scandals. Congress controlled Delhi for fifteen continuous years until it was wiped out in an electoral tsunami in 2015. Congress has no chance in Ganbhir’s seat, but it could eat into the voter support the opposition against the BJP in this and the other six seats. In urban areas, people vote on issues and class status. The middle and upper classes and the upper castes are voting BJP. The lower classes and lower castes are voting the opposition. The slum areas, that constitute the bulk of the voters and the lower caste and Muslims, are unpredictable.
Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram
Muslims are voting strategically depending on which candidate has a better chance of defeating BJP which is labeled as a nationalist Hindu party. Muslim leaders are anti-BJP although the party has done a lot to help their status. However, Muslim women are favorable towards the BJP which has been promoting equality between the gender and outlawing religious divorce known as triple talaq. Muslim women helped to hand the BJP a landslide victory in 2017 in the largest state of Uttar Pradesh. Religious leaders urged Muslim males to disallow their wives from going out to vote in this election fearing they would cast ballots for the BJP enabling the party to win a majority.
Meanwhile in the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged young voters to vote in record numbers for his party. And the Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi, as well as the leader of lower caste parties like SP and BSP, have been attacking Modi candidate has been on the offensives
The leader of the SP, a Yadav caste party led by Akilesh Yadav is fighting for political survival in the Azamgarh constituency, from where thousands of indentured laborers were recruited or tricked into going to then British Guiana and other colonies. This writer traces his roots to Azamgarh. Akilesh is pitched against a popular Yadav actor and singer. Modi came to Azamgarh to campaign drawing a crowd twice that of Akilesh who held a rally two days earlier. However, this writer gives Akilesh the edge. Akilesh father, Mulayam, and his wife, Dimple, and other family members are also contesting seats. They too are projected to win their seats.
The BJP won a landslide victory of 73 out of 80 seats in 2014 in Uttar Pradesh state that comprises Azamgarh and other districts from where Indo-Guyanese trace their roots. The BJP faces a tough challenge now that the SP has forged an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the party of the Jatavs (Chamars as they are known in Guyana). UP state has been witnessing a triangular contest between the BJP, the SP-BSP alliance, and Congress in some seats. Congress is not contesting all seats. Congress is expected to be trounced winning less than half a dozen seats as was also the case in 2014. BJP is projected to win about 50 seats in UP but make up for losses in other states. This will ensure Modi remains PM for another term. Counting of ballots is on the 23 of May. Unlike in Guyana, election workers can count numbers quickly. In Guyana, where it takes days and sometimes weeks to count 400K votes, in India hundreds of millions of ballots are counted within a couple of hours.