India has about as many political parties as types of curry. There are more acronyms for the parties than in Midnight's Children. And, as befits a country of over a billion people trying to elect a new government, the polls reamain open for a month.
For two decades national elections in India have played out similarly. It's been coalition rule by either the moderate Indian National Congress Party (INC) or the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Though the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)--"the party with a difference"--stands as a considerable contender with the INC, their strong security (read: anti-Pakistan) platform, doesn't seem to be assuring them the election, though terrorism has become a major issue post-26/11.
Halfway through the elections for the Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament, either the INC and BJP are predicted to decide the contest again but which one will be determined by what alliances they can make with India's dozens of secondary parties.
One wild card in the last-minute coalition buidling likely to occur is the popular Third Front (TF) which has emerged to disrupt a politics-as-usual outcome. The front is a hodgepodge of socialists and disaffected regional parties from many poor states.
Mumbai lawyer and business expert, Cyril Schroff spoke with Big Think yesterday on the historic elections and post-26/11 India. He anticipates a coalition come May 16 saying "I personally don't believe the Third Front is going to provide the next government of the day."
Though years from e-voting, India's blossoming tech-savvy culture has spurred a number of citizen monitoring efforts. It's perhaps the most significant development in the elections so far. Vote Report India leads the charge toward transparency.
Further Reading and Engagement:
RFI breaks down the major parties.
Ground Report goes hyperlocal from Mumbai.
Truthout gives the low-down on India's far right.