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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora