MitKat Special Report – General Elections in India 2024


In 2024, India will stand at a pivotal moment as it approaches its 18th Lok Sabha elections. The reigning Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be aiming to secure a third consecutive term and a majority in the parliament. The political landscape is marked by a notable contest between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and an unprecedented opposition coalition named INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance), comprising 26 opposition parties. This sets the stage for a political
contest with significant contemporary and long-term implications, with the Congress-led coalition, consisting of 26 parties, challenging the BJP-led coalition, comprising 38 political parties. While the general elections are expected to unfold between April-May 2024, the final schedule is yet to be released by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The strategic approaches of the BJP and Congress diverge as they prepare for the 2024 general elections. The BJP, with a strong presence in the Indian heartland, has faced some setbacks ranging from the loss in Karnataka, as well as criticism for its management of the Manipur unrest, and will look to consolidate its support base by reinforcing its partnerships with smaller regional parties with granular grassroots support. This strategy aims to extend the BJP’s influence and facilitate nuanced ally management. In contrast, Congress’ allies primarily consist of regional parties, with multi-state influence.

Elections in India, on several levels, are a near-annual occurrence and are undertaken with due adherence to democratic procedure. However, they are also marked by a period of higher civil unrest and a charged political atmosphere which could result in escalations. Therefore, it is pertinent for businesses to understand and track relevant issues which may influence the political trajectory of various states where they have operations.


The upcoming 2024 General Elections in India hold immense significance across multiple fronts, focusing on three pivotal pillars: domestic, defence, and foreign policy. India’s foreign policy has notably taken center stage in the incumbent government’s previous tenures, owing to a stable administration. A stronger parliamentary majority is likely to prompt the current government to adopt a firmer stance on foreign policy issues, leading to more decisive and confident strategic decision-making. This assumes heightened importance in the current international landscape where the global economy is characterised by rising nationalistic fervour, and amidst geopolitical events like the Israel-Hamas conflict and the prolonged Ukraine-Russia crisis. While Indian foreign policy has historically been known to follow a linear path regardless of the party governing it, a change at the Centre could still herald some reconsiderations amidst an unstable global order.

Beyond the realm of foreign policy, the 2024 elections are also expected to influence state elections,scheduled to be held before and after May 2024. Around the General Elections, six states—Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Haryana, and Maharashtra—will gear up for their State Legislative Assembly elections. Additionally, Jharkhand, Delhi, and Bihar are slated to conduct legislative assembly elections in 2025, while the possibility of elections in Jammu and Kashmir also remains under consideration.

The ripple effects of the national elections are anticipated to influence the dynamics of these state elections, especially in regions marked by ongoing anti-incumbency sentiments. The immediate impact of the national elections may reverberate in Arunachal Pradesh, where the BJP currently holds power with Pema Khandu as Chief Minister. Meanwhile, Maharashtra, hosting its Legislative Assembly elections later in October, is likely to witness a fierce contest between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, led by the BJP and Shiv Sena under Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, and the Maha Vikas Aghadi, comprising the Shiv Sena (UBT), NCP, and Congress.

States set for Elections within one year of General Elections are:

Total Rajya
1Andhra Pradesh202412 June 2019 – 11 June 20241752511
2Arunachal Pradesh202403 June 2019 – 02 June 20246021
3Odisha202425 June 2019 – 24 June 20241472110
4Sikkim202403 June 2019 – 02 June 20243211
5Haryana202404 Nov 2019 – 04 Nov 202490105
6Maharashtra202427 Nov 2019 – 26 Nov 20242884819

Key issues that may impact General Elections 2024

Reservation Issue

India consists of several castes and communities, leading to a continuous demand for equal rights and opportunities as others who are offered reservations. The issue of reservation is a sensitive topic, and gains prominence before and during elections, often influencing voting patterns and policy action.

In recent times, the Jat, Maratha, Kurmi, and Dhangar community members have been vocal regarding their demands for inclusion in the reservation system. For the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the caste issue, including the caste census has been an ongoing battle. The party has faced opposition on issues such as the exclusion of defined quotas for OBC women within the 33 percent women’s reservation, implementation of the sub-categorization of 27 percent quota based on the Rohini Commission, and the Maratha reservation issue.

The Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) has demanded the Central Government to hold a nationwide caste census, however, it remains under discussion and is unlikely to be implemented before the Lok Sabha polls. The reluctance of the BJP to implement the caste census has been attributed to administrative, legal, and technical issues, but upon closer analysis, it could also be due to the harbouring of apprehensions over the possible increase in regional parties’ pressure for reshaping the OBC quota for employment and education. Meanwhile, in Karnataka, the Congress government faces difficulties in releasing the findings of a caste survey. Notably, Bihar has disclosed the results of its caste survey, indicating that Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) constitute over 63 percent of the state’s population. However, the Bihar caste survey faces legal challenges, citing a potential violation of citizens’ privacy rights and questioning the state’s authority to conduct such a survey. Additionally, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar-led government received criticism for potential political use of the survey data at both state and national levels.

The long-standing Jat reservation demand re-emerged in September during a meeting by the Akhil Bharatiya Jat Mahasabha in Meerut, demanding the inclusion in OBC reservations as they claim to qualify as per the Mandal Commission. The Jat community traditionally dwell in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi-NCR, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, and hold a significant power in the overall vote bank. The Maratha reservation demand resulted in violent protests across Maharashtra from 01 September demanding the status of OBC for the community and led by activist Manoj Jarange-Patil. A group of protestors from the Maratha community have demanded to be recognized as OBC, while Kunbis and other OBC groups – subsets of the Maratha community – have opposed this demand and have staged counter-protests.

While Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has assured action on this, this is likely to play a role in the upcoming elections. Along with the Marathas, the Dhangars in Maharashtra have demanded ST reservation, and also staged a two-week protest in Ahmednagar in September, along with statewide protests in November. As Nomadic Tribes, they avail a 3.5 percent quota in Maharashtra, but demand the status of STs who are entitled to a 7 percent quota. Dhangars in other states including Uttar Pradesh have claimed not being issued SC certificates, despite the recognition, and will boycott the upcoming General Elections.

The ruling BJP has worked towards attaining support from the Kurmi community, giving responsibility to their party’s Kurmi leaders to aggressively campaign and gather a large vote bank for the General Elections. In Uttar Pradesh, the Kurmi vote bank is the second largest, and possesses the capability of influencing at least 25 seats. While the BJP has the support of the community, they have actively demanded inclusion in the ST list and demanded the Kurmali language to be included in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution. These demands have led to railway blockades across Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.

Caste-based issues have been an integral part of elections, especially considering the percentage of each community in the overall vote bank for each party. Opposition parties have criticized the BJP over the caste census, while several parties have constantly faced regional caste-based issues in the past five years, or before.

Cauvery Dispute

The Cauvery River is a significant water body spanning the south Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and the Union Territory of Puducherry. However, flare-ups and prolonged inconclusive discussions have primarily centered on the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The geographic location of Tamil Nadu is such that historically it has relied on upper riparian states to meet its water needs. The Cauvery River originating in Karnataka is crucial for this purpose. In 1974, the water-sharing agreement between then Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore (now Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) expired after five years of being in effect. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) and the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) were formed in 1990 and 1998 to regulate issues and implement orders. Tensions began to flare in 2012, with unrest reported in 2016 and 2017. Under the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) rule in Tamil Nadu, the water dispute reappeared due to a deficiency in overall rainfall. Politically, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Indian National Congress (INC) of Karnataka of deliberately causing the issue of suspending the release of water into Tamil Nadu for political gains.

In 2023, statewide protests were witnessed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu including political parties such as BJP, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Janata Dal (Secular), Amma Makal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), and other organizations including Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS). During this entire dispute, the BJP has targeted the INDIA coalition, while supporting their counterparts in Karnataka. This is also due to their electoral significance in the state, as they won 28 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 and 2019 General Elections.

Amid the ongoing water dispute, campaigning parties are likely to include a revaluation of water policies with keeping sustainable water management as the priority, and not political gains. The dynamic between the Congress and DMK parties might lead to shifts in negotiation strategies ahead of the General Elections.

Old Pension Scheme (OPS)

The issue of pensions has evolved into a significant political contention in the 2023 Assembly Elections in states such as Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Telangana, as well as the 2024 General Elections. The discontinuation of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) on 01 April 2004, and its replacement with the New Pension Scheme (NPS) has been a source of extensive criticism from government employees. The NPS, a market-linked pension plan involving investments in equities and government securities, mandates a 10 percent monthly salary contribution from employees, matched by a 14 percent contribution from the government. In contrast, the OPS guaranteed employees a fixed pension equivalent to 50 percent of their last drawn salary without any required employee contributions. The OPS also factored in inflation, with payouts based on pay commission indices, leading to a resurgence in the demand for OPS and a renewed focus on employee-related concerns in the political discourse.

India has witnessed numerous protests, rallies, and demonstrations advocating for the reinstatement of OPS. Notably, in August 2023, thousands of employees from the union government and central public sector undertakings, including defense establishments, marched to Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi to demand the restoration of OPS. A similar event occurred in October 2023, with thousands of government workers from over 20 states launching the “Pension Shankhnaad Maharally” under the banner of the National Movement of OPS (NMOPS) at Ramlila Maidan. The NMOPS President even threatened to initiate a “Vote pe Chot” campaign if their demands were not met. In November 2023, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) submitted a memorandum to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman,urging the abandonment of NPS and the restoration of OPS, citing the lack of an assured pension under NPS.

While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sidelined discussions on OPS restoration, the issue has gained political traction, particularly in states under the opposition rule, including Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Punjab, which have reverted to OPS. The attribution of Congress’ victory in the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections to the restoration of OPS has further intensified the political dimension of the matter. After a one-day strike in December 2023, involving over 17 lakh employees in Maharashtra, the state cabinet allowed employees who joined after 01 November 2005, to choose the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). Nevertheless, discontent persists as it applies only to a fraction of the employees.

Meanwhile, the upcoming interim budget on 01 February is anticipated to provide insights into the National Pension System’s status. However, reports suggest that adjustments to the NPS may not involve reverting to the previous pension scheme, as clarified by the government in response to Rajya Sabha queries. As the 2024 general elections approach, this issue is expected to receive increased attention and become a focal point in the political agenda. This heightened focus may lead to more rallies, demonstrations, and protests demanding OPS restoration, potentially causing business disruptions, including logistical delays, supply chain disturbances, and restricted worker movement, ultimately leading to reduced productivity.

Unemployment and Inflation

Unemployment poses a significant challenge to India’s economic landscape, but in recent times, there has been a declining trend in the unemployment rate. Data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) indicates a reduction in the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent to 6.8 percent in urban areas for individuals aged 15 and above during January-March 2023. Borrowing data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), Bloomberg reports an overall unemployment rate of 7.95 percent as of July 2023. According to the Press Information Bureau (PIB), rural unemployment decreased from 3.2 percent in 2021-22 to 2.4 percent in 2022-23, while urban unemployment dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.5 percent during the same period. The persisting causes of unemployment include limited growth in well-paying jobs in the organized sector and a substantially lower rate of job creation in India.

Unemployment has become a focal point in the political agendas of most political parties, regaining prominence due to India’s burgeoning economy. In an effort to address unemployment, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) augmented capital spending by 33 percent in the 2023 annual budget, aiming to stimulate economic growth and job creation ahead of the 2024 general elections. Protests or rallies exclusively linked to the issue of unemployment are uncommon, as the matter is typically intertwined with other demands.

Inflation, the upward movement in commodity prices, is a crucial economic indicator managed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through interest rate adjustments. While historical Indian elections generally lack a clear correlation with high inflation, the 1998 Delhi assembly elections and the BJP’s triumph in 2013-14 demonstrate the potential for inflation to assume a political dimension. Recent inflation in India is attributed to global climate conditions, the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the recent Israel-Hamas war. According to data from the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI), in November 2023, year-on-year inflation for rural India stood at 5.85 percent, whereas for urban India, it was 5.26 percent.

Inflation serves as a crucial parameter for evaluating government effectiveness, and the inability to curb high inflation is often exploited by opposition parties for political advantage. The RBI, in 2023, increased the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 percent in February and is left unchanged thereafter. The effective handling of inflation during the Russia-Ukraine war has significantly increased voter confidence, but the current Israeli-Hamas conflict is a litmus test for the effectiveness of the BJP government in managing inflation. Similar to the issue of unemployment, inflation is also intertwined with other demands and is not solely linked to widespread protests or rallies on a larger scale.


The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted in 2019, sought to provide Indian citizenship to religious minorities, such as Hindus and Sikhs, facing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, excluding Muslims. The non-inclusion of Muslims ignited widespread controversy and protests across the nation. The exclusion of Muslims in the CAA raised concerns about discrimination and was seen as a violation of India’s secular principles, prompting extensive demonstrations. States such as Assam, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and Meghalaya witnessed significant opposition and unrest.

The association of the CAA with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) heightened anxieties regarding exclusion and statelessness, particularly among marginalized communities. This unrest had adverse effects on India’s economy, impacting investor confidence and productivity. The political landscape became polarized, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporting the CAA as a humanitarian gesture, while others criticized it as a breach of secularism. Despite widespread criticism of its discriminatory nature, the BJP defended the CAA, presenting it as a protective measure for persecuted minorities. Socially, the CAA intensified communal divisions and spurred debates on inclusivity, underscoring the importance of secular values in India’s social fabric. If the rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) – under works ever since the Act was passed at the end of 2019 – are notified before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, they will potentially lead to renewed social contestation.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is designed to document legal Indian citizens, initially implemented in Assam with potential nationwide extension. It aims to exclude undocumented immigrants, particularly those entering illegally from Bangladesh post-24 March 1971, per the Assam Accord. The NRC requires proof of lineage and residency, and failure to provide such documentation puts individuals at risk of exclusion. The Assam NRC, released in August 2019, identified 31 million out of 33 million residents, leaving 1.9 million potentially stateless.

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India aims to establish uniform laws governing personal matters for all citizens, with the goal of ensuring gender equality, justice, and secularism by eliminating religious-based disparities in marriage, divorce, inheritance, and succession laws. Advocates argue that the UCC has the potential to promote social justice, especially for women, by abolishing discriminatory practices inherent in personal laws. Despite its intentions, implementing the UCC faces challenges, with concerns about potential encroachments on religious freedoms and cultural diversity.

The UCC’s adoption could enhance women’s rights, ensuring equal opportunities within personal law matters. While promising legal consistency and streamlined processes, there is potential for political exploitation, which could either alienate or engage voter segments associated with affected religious or cultural groups. The proposal encountered resistance due to religious and cultural sensitivities, with both the Hindu and Muslim communities expressing reservations, viewing it as an imposition on their religious practices. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, advocating for the UCC’s revival, has gained traction in BJP-led states, reigniting discussions on this long-dormant legal concept.

Ethnic Unrest in Manipur

In 2023, ethnic tensions in Manipur reached a critical juncture, stemming from longstanding historical grievances between the Meitei and Kuki communities. The Meiteis, predominant in the valley, and the Kukis, residing in the hills, have grappled with a deep-seated divide. The recent turmoil originated from a court decision instructing the state government to confer “scheduled tribe” status upon the Meitei group, triggering apprehensions among the Kuki community about potential losses in land, opportunities, and identity.

Protests initiated by Kuki-affiliated student organizations escalated into violence. The situation rapidly deteriorated as both groups engaged in serious violence with law enforcement agencies unable to contain the situation.

Criticism ensued regarding the Central Government’s restrained response, with accusations of complicity against the BJP-led state government dominated by Meiteis, with dialogue often assuming communal undertones. Despite a visit by India’s Home Minister to Manipur, efforts to initiate meaningful dialogue faltered, contributing to heightened distrust within the community. The Supreme Court reprimanded the government for its failure to control the situation. In the lead-up to the general election, the opposition will attempt to push the Central Government on the backfoot criticising their failure to maintain law and order in the state.

The ongoing conflict has negatively impacted Manipur’s communities, resulting in loss of lives, displacement, and an exacerbated ethnic divide. Human rights violations, property destruction, and a breakdown in social cohesion have subjected civilians, particularly vulnerable groups like women and children, to severe psychological trauma. The unrest has taken a toll on Manipur’s economy, affecting agriculture, tourism, and local businesses. The conflict underscores unresolved historical tensions and a fragmented political landscape, posing governance challenges and contributing to a pervasive sense of insecurity among civilians. Mitigation efforts and peace promotion have proven insufficient, leading to sustained violence and escalating humanitarian crises.

Agrarian Unrest

India is an agriculture-dependent country with approximately half of the nation’s populace relying on agriculture and other related activities for its sustenance. The year 2020 saw widespread farmer protests across the nation following the introduction of three controversial farm bills through an ordinance. Responding to the criticism, the Prime Minister repealed these laws on 01 December 2021, sparking discussions about another major demand of the farming community – the legalization of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Minimum Support Price, proposed in the 1960s, establishes a floor price at which the government commits to buying produce from farmers if market prices fall below this threshold. Calculated as 1.5 times the production costs, the government determines the MSP for 23 crops throughout the farming season based on recommendations from the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP). A critical drawback of the MSP system is its lack of legal enforcement due to the absence of a parliamentary act. This absence leaves farmers cultivating economically significant crops vulnerable to market price volatility. Consequently, the demand for legal backing of MSP has increased over the years, with farmers advocating for its extension even to fruits and vegetables. The government, however, is hesitant, citing concerns about increased spending on procurement and storage facilities for grains.

Protests have intensified, with farmers gathering at various locations, such as the Mohali-Chandigarh border in November 2023, seeking a legal guarantee for MSP. Notable demonstrations, including those under the banner of Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on 20 March, have also taken place. Beyond MSP, farmer protests have stemmed from issues like crop procurement, loan waivers, pensions for agricultural workers, land acquisition, compensation for flood-related losses, and government policies such as tax waivers and impositions on imports and exports respectively. The Cauvery River water-sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in September 2023 triggered significant agrarian unrest. These protests have had profound consequences, particularly in the transportation sector, as farmers employed tactics such as highway and train blockades, resulting in widespread business disruptions ranging from logistical delays to supply chain interruptions.

Agricultural issues have consistently been a focal point in political discussions, with opposition parties criticizing the ruling BJP accusing them of insensitivity towards the farming community. As general elections approach, the likelihood of increased demonstrations, protests, and rallies by the farming community seeking to exert pressure on the government is high, potentially leading to further business disruptions.

Communal Issues

India’s polity is democratic in nature with due representation accorded to all communities and religions.Most national parties represent multiple communities in line with respective alignments. However, there are also regional parties with a specific focus on some communities, such as the All-India Majlis-eIttihadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), representing the Muslim community, and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), centered on Sikh representation. In a multi-communal society, with differing levels of representation,frictions are largely invariable, and in India, they often surface in the run-up to elections.

Communal issues across India in the past few years including the Hijab row, Nuh violence, Jaipur-Mumbai train shooting, Udaipur beheading, and the BJP spokesperson’s remarks against Prophet Muhammad, amongst others have brought worldwide attention to the law and order and governance of India, with special emphasis on the ruling Central Government.

The impact of communal riots on elections is multifaceted and is based on regional dynamics along with the response of political figures. Violent incidents lead to the polarization of voters along communal lines and may be exploited by political parties to widen the division. Political parties may also target communities affected by communal riots and offer support in exchange for votes. Violent incidents in particular regions may bring notice to the law and order of the area, which could become a prime focal point for campaigning parties ahead of the General Elections. Coalition building ahead of elections may be hindered due to possible mishandling of situations, and media narratives. Overall, past communal riots play an integral role in the shaping of India’s political landscape ahead of the General Elections.

Truckers’ Strike

On 01 January 2024, truck drivers initiated their protests against the recently implemented Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), 2023, the new criminal code, which includes heightened penalties for hit-and-run cases. The updated provisions now entail a potential 10-year jail term or a fine of INR 7 lakh if a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident without reporting it to the authorities. This marks a significant increase compared to the previous Indian Penal Code (IPC), where the punishment for such offenses was limited to 2-year imprisonment.

Truck drivers announced a month-long strike to protest against stricter punishment for hit-and-run cases under the new law. As drivers of trucks, buses, and oil tankers staged demonstrations and blocked roads at several places across states, including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, it led to fears of fuel shortage. Approximately 2,000 petrol pumps, primarily located in western and northern India, faced fuel shortages because of the truckers’ strike. Despite state-owned oil companies proactively replenishing fuel reserves at numerous petrol pumps nationwide in anticipation of the strike, certain stations in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Punjab experienced depleted stocks due to heightened demand.

The issue also snowballed into a political disagreement as the Indian National Congress (INC) expressed its support for the nationwide truckers’ protest. Party chief Mallikarjun Kharge criticized the legislation, expressing concerns over potential misuse and accused the government of unfairly targeting the less privileged while neglecting to invest in infrastructure development. Rahul Gandhi, another senior Congress leader, condemned the government’s actions, highlighting the passing of the law in Parliament amid the suspension of 150 Members of Parliament. He warned of the potential dire consequences of a law aimed at drivers, essential to the Indian economy. The former Congress chief raised apprehensions about the implications of subjecting hard-working individuals with limited incomes to a harsh legal system and underscored the risks associated with the misuse of such laws, contributing to corruption and exploitation.

On the second day of the strike on 02 January, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) held a meeting with one of the transporters’ bodies, the All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), to de-escalate the situation. The Union government clarified that the new laws and provisions regarding hit-and-run cases have not yet come into force, and the decision to invoke them will be taken only after consultation with the AIMTC.

The truck drivers’ associations subsequently called off their nationwide protest against the new penal provisions regarding hit-and-run cases in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS). However local transport bodies have continued with protests and strikes in multiple states, mostly in northern and western India, demanding that the government withdraw the law rather than merely keeping it in abeyance. Any attempt to implement the new law before the general elections will likely trigger another round of nationwide protests and will heighten the already surcharged political environment.

Areas that may witness poll violence in 2024

Electoral violence in India, like in any democracy, is a concerning occurrence during elections, often arising from political tensions, communal conflicts, and regional complexities. To ensure the integrity of the electoral process, the Indian Election Commission (EC) identifies vulnerable areas, known as sensitive or critical polling stations. This proactive measure aims to safeguard these areas, involving the deployment of security forces comprising seven central paramilitary and police units across the nation during the election period. Most often these regions coincide with areas at high risk of probable electoral violence including areas entrenched in ongoing armed conflicts like Jammu and Kashmir, the “Red Corridor” states, northeastern states, as well as politically volatile states like West Bengal and Kerala. Additionally, there are areas that may witness sporadic unrest due to clashes between rival political groups.

Moreover, to ensure the smooth execution of elections amidst diverse security challenges, general elections are conducted over staggered phases spanning several weeks. Notably, states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir conducted elections in phases during both 2019 and 2014. Many of these regions encompass areas from the “Red Corridor” and zones affected by armed conflicts. While a few of these regions have observed a decline in such occurrences due to increased vigilance and reinforced security measures, the complex interaction of societal, political, and economic factors significantly continues to mould the landscape of electoral volatility in the country. Further details elaborating on this intricate interplay will be expounded upon in the subsequent sections.

Jammu and Kashmir

The enduring militancy in Jammu and Kashmir originates from multifaceted issues, encompassing political disputes over the region’s status, historical tensions, religious and cultural differences, and perceived economic disparities. The insurgency in the region gained momentum, particularly in the late 1980s, leading to armed conflict and the rise of various militant groups. This conflict has had significant ramifications beyond J&K, influencing various aspects of Indian internal security, including electoral

Since the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019, official records indicate a 32 percent reduction in “acts of terrorism” between 05 August 2019 and 06 June 2022, compared to ten months preceding the announcement. However, post-2019, militants have sought refuge in the dense forest expanses adjacent to the Pir Panjal range. Regions such as Rajouri, Poonch, Kulgam, and Anantnag have borne witness to recurrent militant activities, underscoring their susceptibility to violence. In September 2023, the Army conducted a seven-day operation in Anantnag district, culminating in the elimination of two terrorists, including Lashkar e Taiba commander Uzair Khan. Additionally, the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan has fueled concerns about a potential revival of insurgency akin to the 1990s, further compounded by apprehensions of Pakistan leveraging Taliban forces as proxies to escalate tensions in Kashmir.

Notably, northern districts like Kupwara and Baramulla, along the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir border, have historically been breeding grounds for militant operations. Amid these concerns, heightened security measures, including additional deployments of forces and the imposition of prohibitory orders, such as Section 144, are likely to be enforced to ensure the safe conduct of elections. During the 2019 national elections, the electoral process was marred by low voter turnout and instances of violence in
districts like Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam, and Shopian. Anantnag, with a history of unrest, conducted parliamentary elections in three phases due to security concerns, resulting in minimal voter participation, often below 10 percent. Pulwama and Kulgam witnessed clashes between security forces and protesters, impacting voter turnout as fear and apprehension prevailed. In Shopian, security threats and boycott calls contributed to a tense atmosphere, affecting voter participation.

The 2024 elections might refocus attention on the finalised delimitation process from 05 May 2022, which has sparked widespread protests due to perceived oversight of geographical factors, drawing discontent from citizens and political entities. Militant groups may exploit this discontent during elections to incite unrest and amplify existing grievances. As per the final delimitation report, while the total number of seats in the assembly increased to 114, one Parliamentary Constituency has been carved out, combining Anantnag region in the Valley and Rajouri and Poonch of Jammu region.

LWE/Red Corridor Areas

Left-wing extremist (LWE) groups have long waged an insurgency against the Indian state in the expansive “Red Corridor” across central, eastern, and southern India. Emerging from socio-economic disparities and governance failures in the late 1960s, these factions draw ideological inspiration from Marxist-Leninist-Maoist principles. Their armed struggle seeks to establish a classless society by targeting the government as oppressive, advocating for marginalised communities’ rights through disruptive violence. Official data from the Ministry of Home Affairs highlights a 76 percent decrease in Left Wing Extremism (LWE) or Maoist violence in 2022 compared to 2010, resulting in a 90 percent reduction in deaths (including security forces and civilians).

Subsequently, the Maoists’ reach decreased from 96 districts across ten states to 41 districts. However, LWE persists in remote forested areas such as South Bastar, the Andhra-Odisha border, and specific districts in Jharkhand. The movement’s evolution into an extortionist front, departing from its ideological roots, signifies its resilience despite the government’s efforts to dismantle it. While Chhattisgarh saw a decrease in violent LWE incidents, data from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) indicates a rise in security personnel casualties due to targeted ambushes and increased use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by Maoists.

Source: South Asia Terrorism Portal

Integral to LWE resistance is its rejection of democratic processes, particularly elections, employing armed tactics, intimidation, and violence to disrupt participation. Boycott calls against elections and targeted attacks, notably on politicians, polling stations, and security personnel, escalate during electoral periods, heightening conflict in affected regions. Responding to this threat involves multi-layered security arrangements during elections, especially in Naxalite-affected areas. Phased polling, strategic deployment of security forces, and technological aids like drones aim to ensure electoral integrity and safety.

The occurrences of IED blasts and Maoist warnings emphasise the persistent threat in Naxalite-affected regions. The Naxal-affected Bastar division witnessed a comprehensive three-tier security arrangement involving CAPF, state police, CoBRA, and women commandos. The Maoists warned against the entry of polling parties accompanied by security forces into areas such as Sukma, Narayanpur, Bijapur, and Kanker, urging a boycott of the elections. Notable incidents included an IED blast in the forests of Chintagufa and Tadmetla, resulting in injury to a CoBRA personnel.

For the Telangana assembly elections, 614 polling stations across eight Maoist-affected districts— Kothagudem, Mulugu, Bhupalapally, Asifabad, Ramagundam, Adilabad, Mahabubabad, and Nirmal—saw heightened security deployment to prevent disruptions. Further, Maoists’ warning letters to political leaders in Khammam prompted increased vigilance by authorities. In Odisha’s 2022 state elections, suspected Maoist-triggered IED blasts in Kalahandi and Kandhmahal led to calls for merging polling booths to enhance law enforcement concentration in these areas.

Northeast India

The northeastern region of India has been marked by a history of unrest and socio-political complexities that have contributed to challenges in governance and stability. This region, comprising eight states, has witnessed various forms of unrest, including separatist movements, ethnic conflicts, and insurgencies. The region is home to numerous indigenous communities, each with its own distinct cultural identity and aspirations. This diversity has, at times, led to tensions and conflicts among these groups, fueled by issues related to identity, land rights, and autonomy. The demand for greater autonomy or independence by certain ethnic groups like the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), and others has fueled separatist movements in the region. In some cases, these armed groups have been alleged to interfere in the electoral process by influencing voters or using coercion to further their agenda. This intertwining of politics and insurgent groups has created a complex environment, making it challenging to ensure a free and secure electoral atmosphere.

Electoral violence in Northeast India manifests as a complex web of geopolitical complexity, political rivalries and localised tensions, exhibiting distinct patterns across states. Amidst this, the Myanmar crisis assumes regional significance as the Chin National Front strives to secure the India-Myanmar border, triggering an exodus of 5,000 nationals to Mizoram and Manipur. Notably, 42 army personnel surrendered to Mizoram Police and were subsequently held by Assam Rifles. This unrest coincides with a surge in drug trafficking, significantly impacting the northeastern states, particularly amid Manipur’s ongoing turmoil. Simultaneously, the persistent issue of illegal Bangladeshi migration into Assam, exemplified by protests surrounding the National Register of Citizens since December 2019, is likely to remain relevant for the upcoming general elections.

In the recent 2023 Tripura state elections, post-election tensions between BJP supporters and the LeftCongress alliance surged notably in Kumarghat, Khowai, Teliamura, Agartala, Bishalgarh, Sonamura, Udaipur, and Belonia. Meanwhile, Mizoram grapples with the repercussions of Manipur’s unrest, providing refuge to Myanmar and Manipur fleeing populations, straining resources in Aizawl and Serchhip districts proximate to the border. In Nagaland’s previous elections, uncertainty loomed due to the unresolved Naga political crisis, although peace prevailed just before the elections. However, during the 2023 state elections, suspected poll-related violence emerged in Mon district, Tuyi, Bhandari, Kohima, Wokha, and Chukitong, characterised by vehicle burnings, stone-pelting, and gunfire. Meghalaya experienced electoral disruptions in Mariang, Shella, and Mowkaiaw, necessitating curfews and prohibitory orders due to dissatisfaction over election outcomes.

Additionally, Assam encountered clashes primarily in Cachar and Darrang districts during the 2021 elections, reflecting tensions between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) supporters. In the 2022 Manipur state elections, clashes resulted in injuries in Churachandpur district and damage to electronic voting machines (EVMs), alongside incidents of alleged Congress workers vandalising a BJP polling booth in Langthabal constituency and minor skirmishes in Phunal Maring village in Imphal East district. Interestingly, the areas of violence, as noted here, coincide with areas of ongoing unrest in Manipur, illustrating the intersections between regional unrest and electoral violence across these regions.

States of Violent Political Rivalries- West Bengal and Kerala

Electoral violence in West Bengal and Kerala has deep roots in the complex socio-political fabric of these states, influenced by historical, cultural, and political dynamics. Both the states have experienced longstanding political polarisation, characterised by intense ideological differences and historical party dominance. In West Bengal, the prolonged rule of a single party created a culture of political patronage and control, fostering a competitive environment prone to power struggles that often turn violent. Kerala, with its alternating power dynamics between major political alliances, sees aggressive campaigning and competition during elections. Additionally, local leadership aiming to establish dominance or protect their interests have occasionally resorted to instigating or condoning violence during elections.

In West Bengal, historically dominated by the Left Front and later by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has steadily increased its presence, intensifying the political landscape. The 2014 elections saw a tough contest between the TMC and BJP, marked by instances of booth capturing and altercations. Political violence peaked around the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2018 panchayat polls. The BJP, eyeing substantial gains, amplified its campaigning efforts, leading to a more aggressive stance against the ruling TMC. In the 2019 elections, West Bengal’s districts, including Murshidabad, Malda, North 24 Parganas, and South 24 Parganas, were hotspots of electoral violence. These areas witnessed clashes, resulting in casualties and disruptions during polling. Even during the panchayat elections in 2023, the polls ended on 08 July with 12 people dead, ballot boxes vandalised, and bombs thrown at rivals in several villages. In the month leading up to the panchayat elections, 40 people were killed in poll-related violence. Notably, groups and pages used social media to spread violence and communal unrest across West Bengal.

Source: India Today

Kerala, known for its alternating power struggle between the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF), also experienced sporadic incidents of violence during the national elections. Both coalitions, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Indian National Congress, respectively, engaged in aggressive campaigns to sway voters. In 2014, clashes among workers from different political parties disrupted the electoral process in certain parts of Kerala, particularly in Kasaragod and Kannur. In the 2019 elections, although significant disturbances were absent, sporadic incidents, including altercations at polling stations and confrontations among rival party supporters, emerged in districts like Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, albeit not as extensively reported as in West Bengal.

Additional areas of concern

In addition to the aforementioned areas, the vulnerability to electoral violence is often related to alleged poll irregularities, caste and religious tensions, and clashes among rival party workers are reported across the country. Bihar witnessed significant violence rooted in historical caste-based tensions during previous elections. Districts like Munger, Saran, and Arrah encountered clashes that disrupted the electoral process. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh experienced notable violence in areas such as Azamgarh, Amethi, and Pratapgarh, primarily involving confrontation between rival party workers. Madhya Pradesh saw incidents in places like Bhopal and Gwalior involving clashes between rival political factions. Gujarat reported sporadic incidents, notably in areas like Surat and Ahmedabad, with limited overall violence. Haryana experienced clashes in districts such as Rohtak and Hisar, involving supporters of rival parties in previous elections. Karnataka witnessed occasional clashes in regions like Bengaluru and Mangaluru, linked to political rivalries during past elections. Maharashtra reported sporadic incidents affecting Mumbai, Pune, and certain districts due to political tensions in previous elections.

During past elections, Andhra Pradesh faced sporadic clashes in districts like Guntur and Anantapur due to political tensions. Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Puducherry, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands reported minimal incidents, maintaining peaceful electoral environments.

State/UTsVulnerable Areas
Andhra PradeshGuntur, Anantapur, Alluri Sitharama Raju, East Godavari, Parvathipuram Manyam, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam
BiharMunger, Saran, Arrah, Aurangabad, Banka, Gaya, Jamui, Kaimur, Lakhisarai, Nawada, Rohtas, West Champaran
ChhattisgarhBalrampur, Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Dhamtari, Gariyaband, Kanker, Kondagaon, Mahasamund, Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon, Sukma, Kabirdham, Mungeli
JharkhandBokaro, Chatra, Dhanbad, Dumka, East Singhbhum, Garhwa, Giridih, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, Palamu, Ranchi, Saraikela-Kharsawan, West Singhbhum
Madhya PradeshBalaghat, Mandla, Dindori, Bhopal, Gwalior
MaharashtraGadchiroli, Gondia, Mumbai, Pune
OdishaMalkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Bargarh, Bolangir, Mizoram, Sundargarh, Cuttack, Puri
TelanganaAdilabad, Bhadradri-Kothagudem, Jayashankar-Bhupalpally, Komaram-Bheem, Mancherial, Mulugu, Hyderabad, Nizamabad
West BengalJhargram, Murshidabad, Malda, North 24 Parganas
KeralaMalappuram, Palakkad, Wayanad, Kannur
Tamil NaduCuddalore, Kancheepuram, Kannayakumari,Chennai, Coimbatore
DelhiEast Delhi and North Delhi
AssamDibrugarh, Goalpara, Darrang, Silchar, Tezpur, Jorhat, Kokrajhar
GujaratSurat, Ahmedabad
HaryanaRohtak, Hisar
KarnatakaDakshina Kannada, Mangaluru city, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Belagavi
ManipurChurachandpur, Imphal East
TripuraWest Tripura
Uttar PradeshAzamgarh, Amethi, Pratapgarh

Impact on Business


  • Events such as rallies, and election campaigns are likely to be attended by State level party leaders. Party members are also likely to stage public meetings, and roadshows in the region causing localized transport disruptions in the region that can impact supply chains, affecting the availability/transportation of raw materials and components.
  • Businesses may have to bear higher costs due to the need for alternative routes and increased fuel consumption during periods of traffic snarls.
  • Authorities usually impose Section 144, particularly around nomination filing centers and polling stations before and during elections in efforts to ensure law and order situation. Additionally, authorities may issue curfew or suspension of the internet to exercise caution.
  • Various civil, farmer, labour, and student groups may hold protests over grievances after the election results which might jeopardize security.
  • In view of volatile situations, businesses may need to spend additional security measures to protect their assets, employees, and supply chain resiliency. This can strain budgets and impact profitability.
  • The imposition of Model Code of Conduct discourages the ruling government from making major policy announcements or decisions that could influence voters during the election period. This may result in delayed government projects and decisions that could impact businesses awaiting regulatory approvals or participating in government contracts.
  • Different parties may prioritize different infrastructure projects, which can affect businesses’ access to transportation, utilities, and other critical infrastructure.
  • Anticipation of new regulations or changes in existing ones can influence decision-making in various sectors, especially industries heavily regulated by the government.

During Elections

  • In some regions, where polling stations are located in or near business areas, there might be temporary closures on voting days. This can affect the operating hours and revenue generation for businesses, particularly in retail and service industries.
  • Transportation Disruptions: Increased voter turnout can lead to higher traffic in and around polling stations. This may result in traffic congestion, making it difficult for employees, customers, and delivery services to navigate through affected areas.
  • Stock market and financial markets may face uncertainty during elections, influenced by investor sentiment and perceptions about potential policy changes. Businesses with significant exposure to financial markets may face challenges in managing volatility.
  • Disruption of Operations: Heightened security presence and surveillance measures, along with police checkpoints can be expected in the area due to the likelihood of further violence. This may lead to subsequent disruption in operation.


  • Heightened security is likely to be maintained until the completion of counting due to which the implementation of dynamic traffic arrangements including diversions and increased checking cannot be ruled out and may lead to localized traffic disruptions. Further, poll-related violence including minor clashes and related disruptions can be anticipated.
  • Rallies can be expected by supporters of the winning party and demonstrations by members/supporters of losing parties, especially near party headquarters.
  • In the case of post-election violence, it may lead to delays in the supply chain. Suppliers may face challenges in delivering raw materials or finished products, affecting the overall production framework.
  • Vandalization of goods vehicles by groups or losing party members after the results are out, often results in physical damage to the goods being transported.
  • Changes in government can lead to shifts in regulatory policies including potential changes in taxation, industry policies etc. This may require strategic adjustments and contingency planning.


State Assembly elections held in Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana have set the spirit of the Indian voter and evidently the mood of the nation for the fast-approaching 2024 General Elections. The incumbent BJP Bhartiya Janata party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is gearing up for national fight against INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) the opposition coalition with 26 parties.

An event as big as the election concerning 1.4 billion people in the world is bound to affect the international community as well. Indian elections not only influence the economics by driving the domestic and international markets but also the geopolitics of the season. India’s stance on various international issues influences the order of business at the world stage. Elections are coming up in many countries (Africa nations:2024, US, Brazil, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia etc.) suggesting possible government change in several of them. Along with that the China threat coupled with a changing world order; factors in how India responds to them. Hence, the General elections and their results will be closely watched by the domestic as well as the foreign crowd. In the domestic ground, the national poll results are bound to impact the state assembly election scheduled in 6 states in the following months of 2024.

Numerous factors, both old and novel, influence the election this time. Certain key issues that have moved the Indian voters in the past few years are expected to be taken into consideration by either coalitions or parties before putting out the manifesto. Discussions regarding the restoration of the old pension scheme still burn the stage of political debates. The widespread Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) project along with a call for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) are three very contentious issues. The agrarian unrest coupled with the COVID-19 pandemicremain fresh in the mind of the Indian voters. The very recent unrest and rioting in Manipur is expected to influence the citizens of the country, especially the states experiencing similar cases of ethnic and communal clashes. The nature of the issues demands a strong and convincing stance for parties of both coalition on each of them. However, to combat anti- incumbency, issues of unemployment, agrarian distress and heightened communal incidents needs to be addressed well by the ruling government. Beyond domestic considerations, foreign policy and related issues are expected to be influential factors. The BJP government’s high-profile marketing of its inaugural G20 presidency, successful space missions, and diplomatic standoffs, including the recent India-Maldives diplomatic row, are anticipated to collectively shape the trajectory of India’s political landscape in the lead-up to the 2024 General Elections. The inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in January – a highly contentious yet cardinal socio-political issue in India – is expected to provide a significant fillip to the BJP’s election campaign and will also feature high on voters’ minds ahead of the election due to its recency.

Incidents of election-related violence have historically plagued an otherwise free and fair democratic process of Indian Elections. These incidents mostly occur in identified pockets and regions. With special focus on security, logistics management, and heavy deployment of security forces; a decreasing trend in poll related violence is observed. The responsibility falls on the Election Commission to ensure a free and fair election: free of not only physical violence but also of any malpractice by any political entity.

It is critical to understand that the Indian democratic system, with its size and spirit, offers political engagement and the power to be part of the system, to every citizen of the nation. Citizen participation is what makes this process successful. An estimated one billion people out of 1.41 billion will participate in the elections this time and the demographic dividend cannot be ignored.


  • As the chance of sporadic and volatile demonstrations cannot be ruled out, it is advised to consider implementing measures such as remote working to avoid incidental risks.
  • Imposition of prohibitory orders, increased checking and blocking of roads ahead of major protest rallies and demonstrations are likely. In such cases, heightened vigilance should be exercised, and security plans reviewed to ensure the safety of physical infrastructure and employees.
  • Safeguard business premises and valuable assets with reinforced security measures.
  • Devise a clear plan to communicate with employees, customers, and stakeholders during emergency situations.
  • Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. Therefore, it is advised to avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are scheduled/ taking place.
  • Avoid non-essential travel near protest locations; it is advised to restrict travel to only during business hours as far as possible.
  • Limit intercity travel owing to potential curfew situations. In case travel is required during curfew for medical emergencies, carry relevant documentation and proof.
  • Emergency Virtual Private Network (VPN) may be used in case of social media ban. Avoid posting incriminating content on social media.
  • Document incidents promptly for potential insurance claims or legal purposes.
  • Advised to contact the following helpline numbers in case of an emergency:
    • National Emergency number – 112
    • Police- 100
    • Fire- 101
    • Ambulance- 102

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