News / Asia

India Conducts Biggest Round of Voting in Rolling General Elections

Women wait in a queue to cast their vote at polling station at Sirohi district in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan, April 17, 2014.
Women wait in a queue to cast their vote at polling station at Sirohi district in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan, April 17, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
— Millions of Indians headed to the polls on Thursday as the country held the biggest round of its rolling general election. The ruling Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi urged the country not to support its rival, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in an unusual televised address, but analysts say her appeal is unlikely to have much impact.
 
The 121 parliamentary seats for which voters lined up to choose lawmakers spanned Kashmir in the far north to the information technology hub Bangalore in the south.
 
Involving 12 states, the fifth day of polling is a high stakes round for both the opposition BJP and the ruling Congress Party.
 
The latest opinion poll shows the BJP and its allies winning a majority of the seats in parliament.
 
But crucial for clinching the winning number will be the BJP’s performance in battleground states such as Karnataka, and its bastions such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, where voting was held Thursday.  
 
“They [BJP] will have to retain the number of seats and improve upon its performance in 2009 so that they can reach within the 272 required number of seats,” said Satish Misra, a political analyst at New Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation.   
 
While BJP is promising development and good governance, the Congress Party is projecting itself as a pro-poor, inclusive party which will protect the country’s secular identity.
 
In the sharpest attack yet on the BJP, Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi urged the nation in a rare, three-minute paid televised address Monday night to reject divisive and autocratic forces and those whose vision was clouded by hatred and falsehood.  
 
She did not name the BJP or its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, directly. Modi has been accused of not doing enough to stop sectarian violence in his Gujarat state in 2002. Critics have voiced fears of an anti-Muslim bias and accuse him of being authoritarian.
 
Gandhi said her party is fighting to protect the nation from those who want to divide it.
 
However, Misra doubts Sonia Gandhi’s appeal will influence voters.
 
“Fact of the matter is that in a political environment where the Congress is suffering from anti-incumbency and negative image, which is the result of the last ten years of various alleged scandals and scams, naturally people are looking for an alternative and Modi has been the only choice left to the people. There are not many choices,” said Misra.
 
The Congress Party’s image has taken another blow in recent days with a former media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a senior bureaucrat in his government releasing books portraying him as a weak leader and showing Sonia Gandhi as the wielder of real power. The revelations were not startling, but they provided more fodder to the BJP, which is promising strong leadership under Modi.
 
Polling still has to be held for more than half of the 543 seats and will be completed by May 12th. Voter turnout has been high so far, which pollsters say is an indication of a desire for change.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid