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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid