- Video report by ITV News' Asia Correspondent Debi Edward
Everything about the Indian election is staggering in scale, from the near 900 million registered voters to the 12 million civil servants seconded to run it, to the 2.3 million machines used to count it.
It is therefore little wonder that during the campaign the issues raised have been many and have varied state to state, neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
But there were a few key issues which dominated and a few key issues which surprisingly did not.
In India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh we went to find out more about the farmer distress which has proved a big talking point.
Under Narendra Modi centres have been created for farmers to sell their crops and there are accusations that this centralised approach has led to a drop in prices and to corruption. Those we spoke to also accused the government of focusing more on growth and enterprise in the cities and neglecting the rural backbone of the country.
Life in these villages was very far removed from the overcrowded cities which enjoy the benefits of the world’s fastest growing economy.
The issue of violence against women, and India’s shocking rape statistics hardly featured at all on the agenda of any of the main parties.
Last year, the country was named the most dangerous place in the world, and we have visited several times to report on the horrific attacks perpetrated every day against women and young girls.
But in a village in Mahendergarh, a three hour drive north of Delhi, we met with Swati Yadev. She is a 30 year old American educated engineer who gave up her career in the United States to return to India and campaign on a women’s rights and social welfare agenda.
When we met her it appeared she had orchestrated a gathering of villagers but as soon as she began to talk it was clear she has indeed grown a strong following among those who feel their voices are not being heard. She told me when young women are discouraged from education and employment it’s little wonder there aren’t enough females in entering politics.
Her chances of winning tomorrow are quite slim but she’s made a small dent and is determined to raise her profile and raise her voice against the un-addressed issues.
If there was one single issue that everyone wanted to talk to us about it was Modi, the Prime Minister himself.
Whether for or against him, his record, his personality, and his politics were what most people kept coming back to. And it seems that he might have won this election due to a single military decision he took in February.
During a flare up with Pakistan, he ordered an air strike, not a successful one I might add, but it was the resolve he showed, the decisive action, which appears to have cemented his role as ‘the watchman of India’.
We met with a former army captain who has two sons currently serving in the military and he was adamant that Modi had universal support due to his tough stance. So forget about his failed promised on the economy and the fact unemployment is at a 45 year high. Modi can defeat Pakistan.
And so tomorrow, all indications are that the tea sellers son from Gujarat, a man with his roots in the far right, will regain power. In a diverse country with such an enormous electorate, he will not have been the choice of all, but it seems most Indians have given their support to his nationalist agenda.
Not since independence has India chosen such a populist political path, a strongman leader with an emboldened mandate.