News / Asia

    India Wraps Up National Election

    Voters get their names checked in a voter's lists at a polling station during the final phase of the general election in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 12, 2014.
    Voters get their names checked in a voter's lists at a polling station during the final phase of the general election in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 12, 2014.
    Anjana Pasricha
    Exit polls from what is being billed as the world's largest democratic exercise show India's main opposition party is set to win the most seats in parliament.

    It's unclear, however, if the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will win a majority in the 543 member lower house of parliament. National elections in India are extremely difficult to predict and exit polls have been wrong in the past.

    The ruling Congress Party, which has been in power for a decade, has been hit by a series of high profile corruption scandals, high inflation and lagging economic growth.

    India’s mammoth general election drew to a close Monday with polling held in 41 parliamentary constituencies - the last among 543 districts to vote. One of the contests involved the opposition's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, whose party is expected to emerge with the most seats, ending the rule of the Congress Party.
     
    Usually flooded with Hindu priests and pilgrims, the ancient holy city of Varanasi on the banks of the River Ganges is a religious hub that seldom gets much attention at election time.

     
    India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi displays the victory symbol after casting his vote in Ahmadabad, April 30, 2014.India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi displays the victory symbol after casting his vote in Ahmadabad, April 30, 2014.
    x
    India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi displays the victory symbol after casting his vote in Ahmadabad, April 30, 2014.
    India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi displays the victory symbol after casting his vote in Ahmadabad, April 30, 2014.
    But on Monday it was the epicenter of one of the most prestigious contests in India’s mammoth election - Varanasi is one of the two seats from where Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Narendra Modi is seeking a place in parliament.
     
    Modi has two main rivals.  One is Ajay Rai - the candidate of the ruling Congress Party.  The other is Arvind Kejriwal, founder of an anti-corruption party and a new high profile entrant to politics. Kejriwal has camped in the city for a month and run a door to door campaign to defeat Modi.
     
    Varanasi is symbolic of the issues that have dominated this campaign. Although a tourist hub, the city remains dilapidated with poor infrastructure.
     
    That is what Modi promises to fix - not just Varanasi, but throughout the country.  He ran a massive countrywide campaign promising to reboot the Indian economy and bring development and jobs.  
     
    Modi has steered away from religious issues. However some saw his decision to seek election from one of the Hindu religion’s most holy cities as a reinforcement of his credentials as a Hindu nationalist leader.
     
    Those credentials are what the Congress Party and Modi's other critics slammed during the campaign, calling him polarizing and divisive. They pointed to riots which swept the state of Gujarat while he was its leader in 2002, killing nearly 1000 people, mostly Muslims.
     
    Bitterly fought elections


    Independent political analyst Neerja Chowdhury says this has been one of India’s most bitterly fought elections.

    “Modi was not only the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], he was also the central issue of this election. The politics got divided between those who supported him and opposed him… it was a referendum around him. It’s been India’s most charged, it’s been very high stake election, very polarized election.”
     
    Monday’s vote was held in three states - West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
     
    The results will be released Friday when votes from all 543 seats will be counted. Political analysts say the Congress Party could be headed for one of its worst performances due to deep anger with high inflation and corruption scams that marred its second term in office.
     
    Although election forecasts in India can be unreliable, the BJP is expected to emerge with the highest tally.
     
    But much will depend on how close it comes to the majority 272 mark in parliament. If the coalition it heads falls short, analyst Chowdhury says it will have to scout for allies.
     
    “If they are near enough the majority figure, then it is not a problem, suppose they are 40-50 short of the majority figure, even then they will get allies because of the momentum that has been generated for them. And there has been nobody on the other side taking them on effectively,” said Chowdhury.
     
    BJP leaders are expressing optimism that the party will form the next government - an optimism reflected in the country’s stock indices, which surged to a record high Monday as investors hoped for a business-friendly administration.
     
    • A woman holds a sari printed with a portrait of Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at a garments shop in Mumbai, May 14, 2014.
    • Gujarat state chief minister and the prime ministerial candidate of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Narendra Modi, flashes victory sign in Gandhinagar, May 13, 2014.
    • A polling official marks the finger of an elderly man with indelible ink before he casts his vote in Kunwarpur village, Uttar Pradesh, May 12, 2014.
    • Indian election officials seal an electronic voting machine after the closing of a polling center in Kunwarpur village, Uttar Pradesh state, India, May 12, 2014.
    • A woman displays the indelible ink mark on her finger after casting her vote at a polling station in Kunwarpur village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, India, May 12, 2014.
    • A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 12, 2014.
    • Voters get their names checked at a polling station during the final phase of the general election in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 12, 2014.
    • Hindu studnets wear Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or the common man party, caps and wait for the arrival of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal during an election rally in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 9, 2014.
    • Kashmiri women display the indelible ink mark on their fingers after casting their votes in Sheeri, about 60 kilometers north of Srinagar, India, May 7, 2014.
    • Women line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the seventh phase of India's general election at Howrah district in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, April 30, 2014.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.