News / Asia

Indians Vote in Key Election

Long lines at a polling station on the outskirts of New Delhi, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
Long lines at a polling station on the outskirts of New Delhi, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
Anjana Pasricha
India’s electoral battle has moved to the country's heartland, which will play a critical role in deciding the political fortunes of the ruling Congress Party, its main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as a political newcomer called the Aam Aadmi Party. 

Spread over 14 states and territories and covering some 110 million voters, Thursday’s vote was the first big round: it will decide the fate of 91 parliamentary seats.  
 
But nowhere was it as crucial as in the populous Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), where ballots were cast in the west. The north Indian state sends 80 lawmakers to the 543-member house and is famously known as the route to power in the Indian capital.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is leading a blitz campaign to unseat the ruling Congress Party, is banking on a good performance in U.P.
 
“They [BJP] did not do too well in the last election, and they must improve their numbers here if they want to get a commanding position," noted  B.G. Verghese, a political commentator with New Delhi’s independent Center for Policy Research. " If they fail here for whatever reason, that will be a severe blow because there won’t be too many other places where they can make good these numbers.”
 
While development and jobs have emerged as key campaign issues, in some places, such as Muzaffarnagar, factors such as religion also play a critical role.    
 
Indian soldiers killed in Bihar

Voting has been largely peaceful.  But on Thursday, hours before polls opened in the eastern state of Bihar, suspected Maoist rebels blew up a jeep, killing at least two paramilitary soldiers and wounding at least three.

Authorities said a jeep carrying the soldiers to a polling station drove over a landmine in the Munger district.

Maoist insurgents have urged voters to stay away from the polls and threatened to disrupt the election.
 
  • Indians stand in lines to cast their votes outside a polling booth in New Delhi, April 10, 2014.
  • A woman holds a veil over her face and waits for her identity card to be checked before she is allowed to vote in Chandeni, in the northern Indian state of Haryana, April 10, 2014.
  • Residents of a low income settlement in Gurgaon, adjoining New Delhi, hold up their fingers after voting, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
  • Long lines at a polling station on the outskirts of New Delhi, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
  • A supporter of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party wears a mask depicting the face of Prime Minister candidate Narendra Modi, during an election rally in Mumbai, April 9, 2014.
  • Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal drinks water as he sits at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi after he was slapped by an attacker during his election campaign in New Delhi, April, 8, 2014.
  • An election official checks the identity of a voter during the first phase of elections in Agartala, in the northeastern state of Tripura, India, April 7, 2014.
  • An election official applies an indelible ink mark on the finger of a Mishing tribal woman voter in Misamora Sapori, an island in northeastern Assam state, India, April 7, 2014.
  • An elderly woman watches as she stands in a line to cast her vote during the first phase of elections in Dibrugarh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, April 7, 2014.

 Sectarian tensions

The city of Muzaffarnagar and surrounding areas were the scene of Hindu-Muslim clashes last year that left more than 60 people dead and thousands homeless. Most of the victims were Muslims.
 
Political analysts say sectarian tensions here are being exploited by all political parties. The regional party which rules U.P. (Samajwadi Party) is wooing Muslims, many of whom worry about the Hindu nationalist leanings of the BJP. Meanwhile, BJP leaders have been appealing to Hindu voters in this area, triggering accusations from political opponents that the party is divisive.  
 
Ajay Sehgal, who owns farms in the region, says for many voters here religion is an issue.   
 
But Sehgal says for him religion is not the deciding factor. He says he cast his vote for the BJP to give a new party a chance.
 
New Delhi voting
Residents of a low income settlement in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi, hold up their fingers after voting, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)Residents of a low income settlement in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi, hold up their fingers after voting, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
x
Residents of a low income settlement in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi, hold up their fingers after voting, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
Residents of a low income settlement in Gurgaon, adjoining Delhi, hold up their fingers after voting, April 10, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
Thursday’s vote also covered the capital New Delhi, where a new political party born on an anti-corruption plank, the Aam Aadmi Party, faces a key test. After making an impressive debut in Delhi’s local elections, the party is trying to emerge on the national political stage.
 
But political observers say many voters are disillusioned with the party following its brief, controversial 49-day rule in Delhi. They say a poor performance in New Delhi could dim the Aam Aadmi Party’s political future.

Just outside the Indian capital, in the city of Gurgaon, Sonia waits in a long line outside the poll to cast her ballot.  The 22-year old is among the country’s some 120 million first-time voters.
 
Sonia says she was excited about voting, and did it after some help. She opted for a party which will fulfill the needs of poor people like her - water, electricity, jobs.
 
Others like property agent Kuldeep Singh want a leader who can move India forward.

Singh says he is casting his vote for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, because he feels all other leaders have run out of steam and are corrupt.  
     
 
A resident of a slum, Devraj Singh, wants a government that will lower prices and provide jobs, in New Delhi, India, April 4, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)A resident of a slum, Devraj Singh, wants a government that will lower prices and provide jobs, in New Delhi, India, April 4, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
x
A resident of a slum, Devraj Singh, wants a government that will lower prices and provide jobs, in New Delhi, India, April 4, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
A resident of a slum, Devraj Singh, wants a government that will lower prices and provide jobs, in New Delhi, India, April 4, 2014. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
There will be six more days of voting until May 12. Results will be tallied on May 16. Polls have forecast that the BJP will win the most seats, while the ruling Congress Party will suffer major losses.

Outgoing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said it would be a disaster if the BJP's Narendra Modi becomes the new prime minister.

India's supreme court cleared Modi of charges of helping instigate ant-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, killing around 1,000.

The United States canceled his visa.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Not Again from: Canada
April 13, 2014 1:27 AM
India, the largest democracy on the planet, is at a clear cross-road; people will have to chose between continuing with the current elite, which unfortunately has been involved with many negative situations, promisess never met, that have tainted the ruling party with massive alleged coruption scandals- like the VIP helo deal, like issues relating to the navy's expansion deals, like the many concession deals; and then they have had very little success with fighting terrorist, they are seen as soft on terrorism; the economy is in a downward spiral; the many major infrastructure projects have skyrocketed in end costs, with never ending delays; the negative sit relating to the safety of women; and so on.
I do not think that another Ghandi will be able to turn the negative sit, for the ruling party, around. India, as many other countries around the world having significant economic problems, like in Europe, are taking the nationalist option; nationalism is, unfortunately, on the rise to prominence and closing into the leadership positions.
BJP's N. Modi has gained significance to the Indian narrative- he has demonstrated good managerial skills; has not been associated with corruption; although cleared of involvement wrt the Mosque/ Hindu Temple incident, the fact that he was prosecuted over it, has given him great appeal amongst Hindu people, that for centuries were persecuted by the Mogul invaders and their descendants/supporters; the fact that the Hindu population was very much ethnically cleansed in Pakistan, with mass exodus under Islamist persecution, especially over the last 35 yrs, gives Modi a significant advantage amongst Hindu voters.
It is very likely, that at this crossroad, India will take the right turn; which if it occurs, will just result in further strained relations with the West, especially the US. A shift to the right, will mean India would once again fully restore its ties and military coperation/alignment with Russia; which would be a great loss to the West. Many significant Western errors, will potentially have caused/have a relation to a bad outcome in India/Western relations should Modi win the top position..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More