Indian general elections are the most extraordinary thing. A total of 714 million people will be eligible to vote in the general election starting next month – 43 million more than in the last election in 2004.
The elections will be held over five days between April 16 and May 13. More than four million civil servants and 2.1 million paramilitary personnel will be involved in the exercise to elect 543 members of parliament. Two are appointed by the President.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Congress party won 145 seats in the last general election and heads a coalition government whose term ends on June 1. The opposition is split. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 138 seats and heads a centre-right alliance while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leads a leftwing alliance that until recently supported the ruling coalition. Congress ousted the BJP from power in the last election. The winner this time will be known after the votes are counted on May 16.
The polls will be conducted by the independent Election Commission, which has revised the boundaries of 499 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies. There will be more than 828,000 polling stations equipped with more than 1.1 million electronic voting machines spread across the 28 states and seven Union Territories.
Here is the polling schedule for the various states and Union Territories. Each is followed by the number of lawmakers it elects and the label “opp” if it is held by the opposition. (The states and Union Territories have their own governments.) Union Territories are labelled UT.