The general election to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha will be remembered for a number of firsts. It has been an intensive, hi-tech and bitter exercise and redefined the electoral process and politics in several ways.
Highest voter turnout in any general election so far. EC’s provisional figures put the number of voters who exercised their franchise at 551 million, which is more than the combined population of the entire European Union.
- The President, Pranab Mukherjee, did not cast his vote for the sake of neutrality, thus restoring a tradition. Presidents Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil, however, had done so.
- Narendra Modi became the first chief minister in office to also simultaneously launch a prime ministerial campaign
- Modi is the first Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak to make a bid for the prime ministerial office. A.B. Vajpayee was an RSS swayamsevak but not a pracharak.
- It’s the first general election held after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and creation of the 29th state of the Union, Telangana
- Gen (rtd) V.K. Singh became the first former army chief to join a party and contest an LS seat. Earlier, Gen Shankar Roychoudhury was elected to the RS as an independent member from WB.
- NOTA (None of the Above) option provided to voters for the first time in a general election
- The EC also introduced for the first time Voters’ Slips with their photographs
- The rule disqualifying convicted persons from contesting the election came into force in 2014
- Aam Aadmi Party made its debut, putting up over 400 candidates across the country
- Use of ‘Pepper’s ghost’ or three-dimensional hologram for simultaneous campaigning was brought in for the first time
- Innovative political funding, with political parties charging money for attending rallies, selling merchandise and through fund-raising dinners
- Digital marketing of political messages became more popular following growth of new media
- A video channel on voters’ awareness and education launched by the Election Commission on its website and youtube.com/eci
- National Electoral Search to provide polling booth information provided on internet mobile, tablet and computers and mobile SMS through app developed by C-DAC launched
- Booth-wise electoral rolls uploaded in PDF format on the Election Commission’s website
- BJP’s prime ministerial candidate addressed over 5,829 events, including 437 public meetings, 1,350 3-D rallies and 4,000 chai pe charcha programmes since September, 2013, setting a record of sorts.