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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs