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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs