News / Asia

India Begins World's Largest Election

A woman (L) casts her vote with an electronic voting machine as others get their voting slip from an officer at a polling station in Majuli, a large river island in the Brahmaputra river, Jorhat district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, April 7
A woman (L) casts her vote with an electronic voting machine as others get their voting slip from an officer at a polling station in Majuli, a large river island in the Brahmaputra river, Jorhat district, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, April 7
Anjana Pasricha
India’s general election has begun with voters casting ballots in two remote northeastern states. Billed as the world’s largest democratic exercise, the staggered election involving some 815 million voters will conclude in five weeks. Opinion polls say the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is likely to emerge the winner on its promise of economic revival.  
There were long lines at polling stations in the northeastern states of Assam and Tripura as people waited Monday to choose their lawmakers for the national parliament.  
  • 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.
  • An Indian election official applies an indelible ink mark on the finger of a Mishing tribal woman voter during the first phase of elections at Misamora Sapori, an island in northeastern Assam state, India, April 7, 2014.
  • A woman adjusts her sari as she casts her vote during the first phase of elections in Dibrugarh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, April 7, 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.
  • A first time voter displays his voting pass as he stands in a line to cast his vote during the first phase of elections in Dibrugarh, in the northeastern state of Assam, India, April 7, 2014.
  • A Kashmiri woman activist of the ruling National Conference party dances during an election rally on the outskirts of Srinagar, India, April 7, 2014.
  • A security official stands guard as people line up to cast their vote in Nakhrai village in Tinsukia district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, April 7, 2014.

The first round of voting involves only six of the 543 parliamentary seats for which the ruling Congress Party, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and a host of regional parties are vying.
India's Election

-The largest democratic election in the world
-More than 814 million people are registered to vote
-23 million of those voters are 18-19-years-old
-Voting is held in nine stages over five weeks
-All 543 seats in the lower house of parliament are being contested
-There are more than 930,000 polling stations
-Results are expected May 16
The Congress Party has a strong presence in much of the northeast, and this is one of the few places where it is expected to retain its hold. The underdeveloped tea and rice growing region is home to many ethnic communities.  
The head of the Centre for North East Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, Sanjoy Hazarika, says the situation has improved in the region, which has been wracked by insurgencies.     
“The Congress has over the last 10-12 years been able to deliver a semblance of stability, peace if not complete peace, a fractious peace, there has been some basic delivery of services," said Hazarika. "These are the things that matter.”  
However the situation differs markedly in many other parts of the country, where the opposition BJP is forecast to make major gains on its promise of rebooting the country’s plummeting economy and providing corruption-free administration.
The man who polls say could be the country’s next prime minister, Narendra Modi, repeated that promise on Monday as his party, the BJP, released its election manifesto in New Delhi.  
Modi says his party is forging ahead on two issues: good governance and development. He pledged to leave no stone unturned to deliver these.  
The BJP manifesto lays out a plan to rejuvenate Brand India, which it says suffered under the decade-long rule of the Congress Party. It focuses on building modern infrastructure such as high speed trains and new cities, and reviving manufacturing to create jobs.  
The party says it will encourage foreign direct investment in all areas except the retail sector. The BJP has long opposed the entry of foreign super retailers such as Walmart.   
Controversial issues such as a pledge to build a Hindu temple at the site of a mosque torn down more than two decades ago in Uttar Pradesh state also figure in the manifesto.  
But the BJP strongly dismissed concerns that the party will push a Hindu nationalist agenda, known as “Hindutva.”
Murli Manohar Joshi is a top leader of the BJP.  “This is nothing to do with Hindutva," said Joshi. "This is simply a developmental program and the issues which are also culturally important have been also adumbrated in it. Hindutva has never been an issue for elections you see.”  
The ruling Congress Party and other critics have raised fears that the BJP is divisive. They point to riots which wracked Gujarat state under Narendra Modi’s watch in 2002 and killed nearly 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. He has been cleared by the Supreme Court of any involvement.
But political observers say for most voters that issue is on the backburner.
They say the question is not whether the BJP will win the election, but whether it will win enough votes to form a stable government.
There will be eight more rounds of polling ending more than a month later on May 12th in the country’s heartland. Although there could be as many as half a billion votes to be counted, results are expected to be out in just a day on May 16.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: hiralal from: Vadodara, gujarat
April 08, 2014 8:24 PM
Yesss! Let's fix the infrastructure and make new plan for the future ahead of us.

by: Hindutva from: India
April 07, 2014 10:31 AM
excellent comment BJP, we are a Hindu nation...!!! and you right to point out that we have been suffering Islamic atrocities for far too long. Its time to reclaim our heritage and our country from the malicious contamination of the squalid Muslims. Like you said, BJP, we are united, we are growing - and the Islamic depredations on our own People will stop.

by: Khalid from: Oxford
April 07, 2014 2:11 AM
Hi, in relation to the last comment - you are in complete contradiction to how your founding Father of your nation saw the future and wished for peace and harmony with one another. He (Gandhi) was a simple, yet immensely bright and courageous man and all you seem to be extolling is separatism, in-fighting, greed, super-power dreams and aspirations - when the vast, vast majority of your nation live in dire poverty. Shame on you and your kind.
In Response

by: Jethlit from: India
April 07, 2014 12:54 PM
the truth here is that the Muslims have been taking advantage of our kindness for too long..!! you are right to point out that our founding fathers tried their best to make a country fit for all... but look at your response to our kindness... you spat in our face. islamic atrocities will not be tolerated here - no more. now, you have your own country called Pakistan - and to there you should go.

by: David from: Indiana
April 07, 2014 1:57 AM
Wow! No one has voted for mammoths in at least 12,000 years!

by: BJP from: India
April 06, 2014 7:28 PM
The whole of India is so happy..!! it is way past time to let the Muslimes here know that their terrorism is going to have dire dreadful and terrible consequences for them. India will not tolerate Islamic terrorism any longer. We are a Hindu nation. We are a growing Superpower. We are an Industrial Superpower. and - We love Israel..!!
In Response

by: Ranjith from: TamilNadu,India
April 07, 2014 5:57 AM
India is not a country for Hindu,Muslims....,It is a country for MAN KIND. I think the post is fake.someone is trying to make diversity among us.
In Response

by: Joseph from: Chennai
April 07, 2014 4:21 AM
Also you are a lunatic or a person in coma for 65years. India is not a Hindu nation. India is a nation for all Indians.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs