What you need to know about the Indian election


The election for the lower house of India’s parliament – the Lok Sabha – will take place between 19 April and 4 June, against a backdrop of significant economic growth and rising international stature, but elevated societal and cultural risks.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeks a third consecutive electoral victory alongside its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies, and another prime ministerial term for Narendra Modi. BJP’s main opponent is the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a coalition of opposition parties with the Indian National Congress (INC) at its helm.

Who's in the running? Primary political parties and candidates

Narendra Modi - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

  • Ruled India since 2014 with Narendra Modi as prime minister
  • Favourite to win upcoming election
  • Supporters appreciate its Hindu nationalist policies, and India’s increasing prominence in global politics and strong economic growth over past ten years
  • Opponents criticise it for high unemployment and its support for Hindu nationalism and a reduction in space for dissent
  • Particularly popular in ‘Hindi Belt’ and Gujarat

Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge - Indian National Congress (INC)

  • India’s oldest political party, dating back to British colonial era
  • Fallen out of voters’ favour in recent years owing to perceived nepotism within party and allegations of corruption while in power
  • Seeks to recover lost ground by appealing to secularism amid growing religious communalism

Electoral risks


The primary risks are associated with the election is temporary and minor operational disruption, consistent with previous election periods. Most non-essential businesses are likely to restrict their opening hours or temporarily suspend their operations during voting hours. Heightened security and localised disruption are liable to feature at some polling stations in busier areas. Travel is likely to experience significant disruption during election-related rallies, especially if Prime Minister Modi is expected to be in attendance.

Political violence

India experiences a moderate degree of political violence during election periods, with the likelihood varying across regions, and recent trends indicate that the risk of attacks on politicians and activists has increased. West Bengal state has a history of political violence during elections. While the authorities have deployed additional security to West Bengal ahead of the general election, violence is likely owing to a climate of heightened tension between the ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC) party and the BJP. There is also credible risk of incidents of political violence in Manipur state. Security risks have deteriorated in the state since widespread ethnic unrest started in May 2023. Clashes between rival groups or armed attacks on polling stations, especially outside the Imphal Valley, cannot be ruled out.

Protests, clashes and unrest

Protests are likely during the election period and are expected to be linked to politics or specific issues. Issue-based protests occur frequently across India and will likely take place during the election period as interest groups attempt to obtain concessions from the government. However, they are not expected to become widespread. Communal tensions have increased during the past twelve months, and associated clashes or riots during the election period cannot be ruled out. Such riots have the potential to involve large numbers of people and spread beyond their immediate vicinity. The authorities tend to attempt to curtail communal riots by temporarily prohibiting public gatherings of four or more people and suspending internet services.


While the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) have improved domestic counter-terrorism capabilities in recent years, reflected by a reduction in terrorist incidents, the risk of terrorism remains high. Left-wing Naxalites have historically been active during election periods, but recent security force operations have reduced the threat they pose. Traditional Islamist threat actors remain, though their historic state backer, Pakistan, reduced support for anti-India militants after a February 2019 terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir resulted in a significant international standoff. The threat posed by Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP), an Islamic State (IS) affiliate, has grown in the 18 months, albeit slowly. ISKP is also known to target individuals linked to elections. While ISKP does not have as strong a presence in India as in Pakistan, the threat the group poses during the election period cannot be ruled out.

Navigating business in the election climate

Unrest as well as societal and cultural risks should be closely monitored in the coming two-to-three months, but the security trend is anticipated to remain stable in the medium term. While the risk of disruption and the potential for violence are elevated, there is an even chance or low likelihood of other risks materialising.


  • Closely monitor election-related developments via local and international media reporting as well as trusted multi-source intelligence advisories such as Healix Sentinel alerts.
  • Inform personnel of voting times and the ongoing election campaign more broadly.
  • Refrain from displaying overt political allegiances.
  • Identify flashpoint locations such as political party offices in case of protest activity.
  • Exercise basic security precautions in the vicinity of flashpoint locations such as campaign rallies and election events. Exit the area at the first sign of unrest.

Ali Hassan
Intelligence Analyst
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