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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs