For the first time, voters can exercise the "None of the above" (NOTA) option if they do not wish to choose any candidate.
NARENDRA MODIBharativa Janata Party (BJP)Chief Minister of Gujarat
Frontrunner in current elections, good orator and runs an efficient business administration. But is a divisive figure because of his role in the Gujarat 2002 riots.
In 1996, there were 1,033 candidates in the running for a single seat in the Modaurichi, Tamil Nadu assembly constituency.
To fit all their names, a booklet was used instead of a ballot paper.
ARVIND KEJRIWALAam Aadmi Party (AAP)Leader of AAP
Anti-corruption crusader turned politician. His two-year-old AAP party came to power in Delhi but lasted for only 49 days. He is one of the most talked-about politicians in the country.
A distinctive element of Rajnandagaon in Madhya Pradesh state is that the constituency has been represented by three members of the same family at some point.
MULAYAM SINGH YADAVSamajwadi Party
Served three terms as Chief Minister of India’s largest state Uttar Pradesh. He has been accused of corruption and nepotism. His support base is among the Yadavs (pastoral community) and the Muslim community.
The elephant is the electoral symbol for both Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Republican Party in the US.
A total of 11,844 Non-Resident Indians have registered to vote for the first time this year. The majority of them are from Kerala.
There are no NRI voters in Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for the largest number of general voters.
Twenty-eight thousand two hundred and fourteen (28,214) people out of the 814 million eligible voters in India identify as transgender and have received official recognition for the first time.
They are listed as “Other” in their voter identity cards.
MAMATA BANERJEETrinamool Congress (TMC)Chief Minister of West Bengal
Mass leader who defeated the 34-year-old left-front government in West Bengal. She is popularly known as “Didi” (Older sister), but her stint in government has been criticised.
JAYALALITHAA JAYARAMAIADMK leader
Currently serving her third term as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Popularly called “Amma” (Mother) by her supporters. She has ambitions to become the next prime minister.
LALU PRASAD YADAVRashtriya Janata DalFormer Chief Minister of Bihar
A colourful politician who was voted out of power over a corruption scandal. He was disqualified as a member of Lok Sabha after he was convicted last year. Yadav wields support among the Yadavs and Muslim community.
In 1998, no seats were won by the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh.
NITISH KUMARJanata DalChief Minister of Bihar
He has been credited to have turned around the state of Bihar by focusing on girls’ education and law and order. Broke 17-year alliance with the BJP because of the candidature of Narendra Modi.
In the 1950s, there were different ballot boxes used for each candidate in the elections.
Rather than using a ballot paper to list all the parties, different coloured boxes were used to represent each party.
NAVEEN PATNAIKBiju Janata DalChief Minister of Odisha state
Son of late political heavyweight Biju Patnaik. Naveen Patnaik has been the eastern state’s chief minister ever since his Biju Janata Dal won elections in 2000. In the event of a fractured election result, he may be courted for support.
RAHUL GANDHIIndian National Congress (INC)Vice president of INC
Scion of the Gandhi dynasty but lacks government experience. Spearheads the Congress campaign but has failed to connect with the youth.
MAYAWATI KUMARIBahujan Samaj Party (BSP)Leader of BSP
Served four terms as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. She is a Dalit icon. Her last stint as chief minister was controversial due to the erecting of statues of Dalit leaders and of herself.
In the 1996 general elections, the lowest voter turnout in history was recorded at the Chako IB polling station in Bombila, Arunachal Pradesh, with only three votes.
The parents of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former prime minister, shared the same first name, Krishna. His father's name was Krishna Bihari Vajpayee and mother Krishna Devi.
The Congress party won 415 seats in the 1984 parliamentary elections, the maximum by any party till date.
The total number of polling stations in this election would be 930,000, up from 828,804 in 2009.
In 1957, nearly 62.2 percent voted, resulting in the highest percentage of voters in any general elections to date.
In contrast, only 33 percent cast their vote in the 1967 elections.
Key candidates & players
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Sources: indian-elections.com / Election Comission of India * Icons: Elephant by Ron Baldesancho from The Noun Project / Chair by Robert Wilkinson from The Noun Project / Ballot Box by Nicolas Ramallo from The Noun Project / Family by Jens Tärning from The Noun Project / People by Moh Kamaru from The Noun Project / Vote by Luis Prado from The Noun Project
THE MYRIAD OF INDIA’SPOLITICAL PARTIES
AND THEIR SYMBOLS
BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY(BJP)
PARTY CHIEFRajnath Singh
IDEOLOGYHindu nationalism, Integral humanism, Social activism
POLITICAL POSITIONRight wing (socialism)
PM CANDIDATENarendra Modi
FACTS ONINDIA ELECTIONS
Electoral symbols play an important role in elections for a number of reasons. Parties choose a symbol that people can easily identify, while attaching themselves to a specific ideology, movement, or regional affiliation.
BAHUJAN SAMAJ PARTY(BSP)
PARTY CHIEFMayawati Kumari
IDEOLOGYDalit socialism, Secularism, Social Engineering
INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS(INC)
Indian nationalism, Social democracy
KEY LEADERSSonia Gandhi, Monmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi
RASHTRIYA JANATA DAL(RJD)
(RJD’s flag reflects the pride of the state of Bihar and it is green with a lantern in the center)PARTY CHIEF
Lalu Prasad Yadav
SUPPORT BASEYadavs and Muslims
(Two large and politically active segments of Bihar’s population)
NATIONALIST CONGRESS PARTY(NCP)
Progressivism, Secular democracy, Social conservatism, Nationalism
POLITICAL POSITIONCentre to Centre-Left
KEY LEADERSharad Pawar
(The party symbol is a bicycle, which is the commuting vehicle for most of the Indian people, especially the poor)IDEOLOGYPopulism, Democratic socialism, Secularism
PARTY LEADERMulayam Singh Yadav
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA(CPI)
SYMBOLEars of Corn & Sickle
KEY LEADERAB Bardhan
SYMBOLBow and arrow
(The flag is usually orange colour with a bow and arrow in the middle, which reflects the party’s Hindu ideology)IDEOLOGYHindutva, Marathi nationalism, Ultranationalism
PARTY LEADERUdhav Thackeray
COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA - MARXIST(CPI-M)
SYMBOLHammer, Sickle and Star
KEY LEADERSPrakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury, Brinda Karat
* (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam)
Social democracy, Populist
PARTY LEADERJ. Jayalalithaa
AAM AADMI PARTY(AAP)
(Aam Aadmi stands for “common man” and the broom is used to signify AAP’s mission to sweep away corruption)IDEOLOGY
KEY LEADERSArvind Kejriwal
SYMBOLThe “twin flowers in grass”
(Represents the insignificant and oppressed parts of society. It draws its mass base from the states of West Bengal and Manipur)POLITICAL POSITION
PARTY LEADERMamata Banerjee
Although India has over one thousand political parties, only six are national parties, along with other state parties that usually latch on to those six to make their presence felt at the national level.