News / Asia

Rahul Gandhi Faces Crucial Test in Indian Election

Kashmiri women display the indelible ink mark on their fingers after casting their votes, outside a polling station in Sheeri, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Srinagar, India, May 7, 2014.
Kashmiri women display the indelible ink mark on their fingers after casting their votes, outside a polling station in Sheeri, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Srinagar, India, May 7, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
As India holds the second to the last round of voting in general elections, all eyes are on a parliamentary seat being defended by top Congress Party leader, Rahul Gandhi. His performance could play a crucial role in his political future.
 
Wednesday’s vote involved 64 parliamentary seats across seven states. But none got as much attention as a rural constituency in Uttar Pradesh state, Amethi, which is being defended by Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi political dynasty, which controls the ruling Congress Party.
 
Amethi, an underdeveloped area, has been a Gandhi family bastion for over three decades. But in this election,  the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has mounted an all-out challenge to the 43-year-old Congress Party leader.   
 
The BJP has fielded a well known television actress, Smriti Irani, against Rahul Gandhi, who has represented Amethi for ten years. A new party, Aam Aadmi Party, has pitted a popular anti-corruption campaigner, Kumar Vishwas, against him.
 
And in what many observers interpreted as a sign of nervousness, Rahul Gandhi put in an appearance in Amethi as it voted Wednesday and personally went around to polling booths - something he has not done in past elections.
 
As people lined up to vote, some spoke of unswerving loyalty to the Gandhi family.  Some others expressed dissatisfaction that their lot has not improved although they are represented by the powerful Gandhi family. They pointed to poor roads, hundreds of unemployed young people and lack of electricity.
 
Rahul Gandhi is widely expected to win the race. But analysts say if the victory margin is narrow, it will only strengthen charges that he has been ineffective in leading the Congress Party’s election campaign.
 
A professor of political science at Hyderabad University, Jyotirmaya Sharma, said a poor result will be a political setback.  “His [Rahul Gandhi] credibility within the Congress has been eroded anyway during the course of the election as somebody who neither has the charisma nor the ideas to push the Congress campaign forward. He has not been able to put a positive gloss on the Congress’s ten years. That is where his failure lies,” stated Sharma.
 
Although Rahul Gandhi has not been named the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress Party, he is seen as the man who will inherit its leadership from his mother, Sonia Gandhi.
 
His rival, the opposition prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, has relentlessly run down the Gandhi family’s leadership.
 
And the war of words between Modi and the Gandhi family has grown bitter in recent days. Modi has mocked Rahul Gandhi as a pampered prince and questioned the relevance of the Gandhis. They have accused him of indulging in low level politics.  
 
Modi even shrugged aside a tradition in which senior leaders do not canvass in the constituencies of top rivals, and addressed a rally in Amethi on Monday, taking the battle into the turf of the Gandhis. He accused them of neglecting the area and promised to transform it in months, promoting himself as a man who can deliver development.  
 
A political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, Satish Misra, said Rahul Gandhi is fighting widespread disillusionment with the governing Congress Party coalition known as UPA (United Progressive Alliance).
 
“He was carrying a very heavy baggage on his shoulder, ten years of anti incumbency of the UPA and lots of scams and scandals had taken out the sheen of the Congress Party and he was asked to lead a campaign which was burdened by all this,” said Misra.
 
Political analysts said that if projections that the Congress Party will lose come true, Rahul Gandhi will concentrate on rebuilding the party that has dominated India since Independence.
 
The votes in India's phased national elections will be counted on May 16, after the last round of polling ends on Monday.

Clashes, low voter turnout in Indian Kashmir

Few voters in Indian-controlled Kashmir have defied a separatist boycott of India's national election, with protesters clashing with police in parts of the disputed Himalayan region.

Demonstrators threw stones at security forces in the Baramulla area Wednesday, the third day of voting in Kashmir. A bomb blast at a polling station in the same district reportedly injured at least one paramilitary soldier.

Separatists have called on Kashmiris to boycott India's five week parliamentary election and voter turnout in the region is estimated to be as low as 20 percent.  The vote has been marred by violence with suspected militants killing local leaders as a warning to residents not to take part in the election.

Witnesses say in the towns of Sopore and Bandipore Wednesday, protesters kept villagers from heading to polls, with crowds attacking booths, injuring at least four security personnel.

Thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers are deployed across Indian-controlled Kashmir to provide security during what is being called the world's largest democratic exercise. India has more than 800 million registered voters who will be selecting members of the lower house of parliament.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both. Since 1989, various Muslim separatist groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from Hindu-majority India or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. Thousands of people have been killed in the insurgency.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: R.S.Gadasalli from: USA
May 07, 2014 1:49 PM
This young man with zero administrative experience and billions in bank accounts is being guided by people who are the supporters of communal Muslim organizations and leftist leaning organizations. He blamed Modi for selling the lands to big business where his UPA govt has appreciated the land dealings with big business as the best in the country.

He refuses to accept the verdict of the highest courts of the land which have said Modi is not guilty of any crime but continues to attack him for 2002 riots. He keeps quiet on atrocities on Hindus and Sikhs but blames the Hindus as communal. He wont be PM of India and his family is losing grounds in India. Once the new govt goes after their ill-gotten looted wealth, their days of power will end.

by: Rahul from: USA
May 07, 2014 11:03 AM
Congress’s Amethi candidate Rahul Gandhi himself got embroiled in several questionable practices during this high stakes election, which has the potential to nix his political career and ambitions forever. For the first time in the past 10 years, the Gandhi scion spent the night in Amethi and remained present during the polling, thus revealing his anxiety about his fate due to the threat mounted by Smriti Irani and the AAP’s Kumar Vishwas. See what Rahul Gandhi is up to in Amethi As Rahul Gandhi moved from booth to booth inside the constituency, which has also been shown on ABP News, the social media got after him with unexpected ferocity.

Many things were amiss with the Congress vice-president’s behavior. To begin with, a person who is an SPG protectee cannot move around the constituency with security, much less enter a polling booth if not a voter in the constituency, which Gandhi is not, having cast his vote in Delhi on April 7. The law states, “(21) On the day of the poll, no person who has been assessed to be having a security threat and therefore given official security shall enter the vicinity of a polling station premise (within 100 meters) with his security personnel. Further, on the day of the poll no such person shall move around in a constituency with his security personnel. If the person provided with official security happens to be a voter also, then he or she shall restrict his / her movement – accompanied by security personnel, to voting only”.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs