Lok Sabha Election 2014 is likely to be the most important election ever held in India, and is likely to remain so till India completes 100 years of independence. This is so for various reasons. Even before the presence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the winds of fundamental change—both economic and political—were sweeping across India. For at least the last decade-and-a-half, the most important parameter in elections has been the performance of the incumbent party in elections. This performance has consisted, mainly, of two criteria; first, did the economy perform well during the tenure of the incumbent government; and second, was the leader (chief minister or prime minister) perceived to be corrupt or not. Obviously, there have been detours around this theme, and most importantly in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when despite good performance, the NDA lost.
The road to Election 2014 has now become curved with the advent, and the Delhi-assembly elections success, of the AAP. With the AAP's intention to contest at least 300 seats (maybe, all 543!) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Congress and the BJP appear to be a worried lot. This discomfort stems from the huge surprise “victory” of the AAP in the recent Delhi assembly elections, where the Congress suffered a massive thrashing by the jhadoo (broom, the AAP's symbol). It is not that the AAP won, but that everybody else lost; hence, its victory is in quotes. Ultimately, the question on everybody's mind is, "How many seats will the Aam Aadmi Party win in 2014?"
Regardless of the seats it might win, the AAP might hurt either one or both of the major parties/alliances. The fact remains that the AAP is an important force in the forthcoming elections, especially in terms of the vote share they will be able to obtain. Their overall effect is analysed in this first of two articles; vote shares in the first part, and the all important seat 'estimates' appearing tomorrow (January 25, 2014). It bears emphasis that the estimates are not forecasts; these estimates are not based on opinions or opinion polls, but rather