India, with a 1.4 billion population (the highest on Earth), has a 545-member lower house of Parliament, where two members are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community. The upper house of Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha) has  250 members of which 238 are elected by the legislatures from the States and union territories.  A maximum of  12 members are nominated by the President for their contributions to art, literature, science, social services, etc. The Vice-President usually presides over the Rajya Sabha sessions, whereas the Speaker runs the show in Lok Sabha.

The first phase of general elections covers 102 Parliamentary constituencies in 12 States and union territories where around 1,625 candidates will seek the mandate of over 166 million voters (including 82 million female, 11,371 third gender, and 18 million first-time electorates). Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in northeast India will simultaneously witness voting for constituting their legislative assemblies too. Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar assures the voters of free, fair, and peaceful elections and he urges the voters to participate in the biggest festival of democracy. The seven-phase voting exercise, the last one being on June 1, will cost around 1,200 billion rupees.

Five out of 14 Parliamentary seats in Assam go to the polls with key contestants like Central Minister  Sarbananda Sonowal, Sitting MP Gaurav Gogoi, Tapan Gogoi, Pradan Barua, etc. The largest State in the far eastern region will witness two more phases of polling on April 26 and May 7. Poll procedures are going on in Inner Manipur and Tripura West seats are also going on (Outer Manipur and Tripura East will go to polls on 26 April). Similarly, polling begins in  Arunachal Pradesh for both seats with key candidates  Kiren Rijiju, Nabam Tuki, Tapir Gao,  lone seat in Mizoram, Nagaland, and  Sikkim.

Voting is also under progress in Tamil Nadu for all its 39 Parliamentary seats, where all five seats in Uttarakhand have gone to polls.  Similarly,  eight out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 of 25 seats in Rajasthan, three constituencies in West Bengal, six in Maharashtra, four in Bihar, six in Madhya Pradesh, one each in Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir also go to polls. In the Arunachal Pradesh assembly polls, 10 candidates including Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his deputy Chowna Mein (both Bharatiya Janata Party nominees) out of 60 contestants have already been declared as unopposed winners.


Nava J. Thakuria is a journalist based in Guwahati, Assam, India.

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