Close to 389 million valid votes were cast in India’s previous General Election in 2004 to the 14th Lok Sabha, according to the Election Commission’s volume STATISTICAL REPORT ON GENERAL ELECTIONS, 2004 TO THE 14th LOK SABHA VOLUME III (DETAILS FOR ASSEMBLY SEGMENTS OF PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES).
Unfortunately, the Election Commission, like the Government of India in general, remains extremely uncomfortable with using Excel or any spreadsheets at all, and hence much of the information they provide remains unproductive — reflecting, I am afraid, rather obsolescent technology and organisation and management. From an Excel spreadsheet I have had to create for myself using EC data, my calculations give the following breakdown of the votes received in 2004 by most of the larger political parties:
That accounts for 372,382,530. The precise total of valid votes that I get by tabulating EC data using my spreadsheet is 388,920,557. The EC itself reports in the very same document a total of 388,672,504. The percentage difference is close enough to zero but it should be zero itself; I shall be delighted if my spreadsheet’s total is the incorrect one somehow, even though it uses the EC’s own data; but it does lead me to ask: “Who, if anyone, audits the Election Commission’s numerical calculations and vote tallies? Why is India’s ordinary public not informed about all this and other processes of the Election Commission perfectly transparently as a matter of routine? Is reform necessary of the processes and procedures of the Election Commission itself?”.
(Incidentally, the slight discrepancy in the totals could have arisen perhaps because my spreadsheet does, correctly, include the relatively small number of postal ballots, whereas the EC’s total possibly has not done.)
Raw votes like those described above do not of course translate directly into seats in Parliament but even so they indicate the state of popular political opinion in 2004. By how much will that popular opinion be found to have changed in 2009? How will demographic changes, and the delimitation exercise that has redrawn constituencies, affect the new outcomes? These are the kind of grown-up adult questions to ask yourself if you get bored with the endless pretentious waffle that emerges from our talking-heads on TV etc regarding the ongoing election.
Notice too the 16.5 million people of India who voted in 2004 for Independents! What on earth has made Dr Manmohan Singh recently initiate an absurd debate against them?
Here below as well is the full list of all parties that were in contention in 2004; if you want to know the vote-share any of them received according to my spreadsheet, send in a comment to this post and I shall try to respond. Better still, look up the EC volume mentioned and create your own spreadsheet from its data, and tell me how accurate mine is. (But beware, the spreadsheet will have some 60,000 rows to start with!)
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