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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid