The upcoming Indian elections in the eyes of student Riccardo Campana

A campaign poster of the National Democratic Alliance

Approximately one billion people in India are preparing to cast their vote in the upcoming election, which will determine the country's government for the next five years. Riccardo Campana, a student of Language and Civilisation of Asia and Mediterranean Africa at Ca' Foscari University, has been studying journalism at Bennet University in New Delhi (one of Ca' Foscari's partner universities ) since July 2023. On the eve of this vast election, he shared his insights with us.

"General elections in India, the eighteenth since the country's independence in 1947, will take place from 19 April to 1 June 2024. The outcome of this vote will determine the formation of the government that will be in power until 2029. The two main contenders in this important challenge are the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), an opposition coalition led by the Indian National Congress (INC) under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress party has been a leading force in India since the country’s independence. In the earlier decades, the party was known for its liberal-socialist ideologies and was a dominant and secular political force in the country until the early 1990s, when, at the beginning of India's economic boom, a nationalist and religious sentiment emerged, eventually converging into the BJP party.


Indian citizens will vote for the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (lower house) in seven phases. These phases will take place on April 19th, April 26th, May 7th, May 13th, May 20th, May 25th, and June 1st, depending on the regions they reside in. Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used as the voting method, as has been the case since 2004. These devices display the names of the party and the proposed candidate for each constituency, as each constituency corresponds to a member of the Lok Sabha. The final results will be announced on June 4th.

These elections will involve a huge number of eligible voters (roughly 970 million) and are the most contested since Indira Gandhi's re-election in 1980. Recently, the Indian National Congress (INC) has faced a series of charges and lawsuits for tax evasion, resulting in part of its bank accounts being frozen (about 25 million dollars). Hence, the party is having difficulty financing its election campaign. Additionally, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi and one of the main figures in the opposition, was controversially arrested on March 21st. These events spurred dissent among citizens and international activists who condemned them as an attempt by the current government to put its opponents at bay given the upcoming elections.

The opposition party was actually already in a weak position even before the recent lawsuits. The BJP, which won 37.4% of the vote in 2019, still comes across as the leading party in all polls; the party has attracted significant support from all sections of the population over the years.

The role of technology

Technology is certainly one of the main factors on which the success of the party is based. Thanks to social media and numerous other promotional campaigns on various information systems, the BJP has become pervasive in the digital space.

For this election campaign, the saffron-coloured party (this is what the BJP is called in the international press because the saffron colour, which is also the colour worn by the sadhū, is the emblem of the Hindu religion) has created an app called 'Saral', whose purpose is precisely to better connect with voters. This application, which has over one million downloads according to the Play Store and over three million according to other sources, requires citizens to provide personal data such as name, address, profession, religion, and caste. Through the app, users can access news about the party and the election campaign, as well as information about rallies and the possibility of signing up for gatherings. The BJP aims to gather as much data as possible on the population to create targeted election campaigns for each locality and community. However, this practice has caused outrage among the opposition and various associations, who believe it is an unfair and dangerous precedent for the democratic process, especially since Modi's party was able to gain access to this data by being in government for a decade.

The opposition

The opposition is in an entirely different situation. The Congress (as the historic Indian National Congress is usually called) was ousted after the last elections, having won only 52 seats out of the minimum 55 required to be officially considered an opposition party, and formed the INDIA coalition in June 2023, gathering all the anti-Modi parties.

Despite sharing the common goal of putting an end to the BJP government, the parties that form this coalition are fundamentally different in their ideologies and practices. These differences pose a significant challenge to their unity and stability. The recent funding freeze was then the coup de grace for a party that, to all intents and purposes, seems to have reached the end of its long historical parabola. After nearly sixty years of virtually uninterrupted rule, the Congress, as well as the entire Indian left, is in a state of decline that, since 2014, has reduced the then-party of Pandit Nehru (1889-1954) and Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) to a decidedly weaker role within the opposition.

The challenges of the future

Regardless of who the winner will be, the outcome of these elections will mark a crucial stage in India's future history, especially concerning the country's international standing in the years to come. With the chairmanship of the G20 in 2023, stable GDP growth since 2010, and the profound geopolitical changes at the global level that we have been witnessing in recent years, India is slowly rising to a leading position for the foreseeable future.

It is also important to remember that the incoming government officials, beginning their terms in June, will face significant challenges in governing a vast and intricate country. These challenges include addressing high unemployment rates (projected at 5.4% in 2022/23), managing inflation (currently at 4.85%), and finding a path to a more equitable development.

Last but not least, the recent inauguration of the Rām mandir, a temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Rām in Ayodhya, has once again brought the spotlight on the Hindutvā ideology, which promotes Hindu militant religious nationalism. This has raised concerns about the complicated relationship between the dominant Hindu community and the religious minorities in the country, especially the Muslims. For years, the Muslim community has suffered from growing tensions and blatant discrimination.