India holds new vote amid violence and protests

  • In World/Latin America
  • 2019-04-18 14:42:10Z
  • By Ruchika Chitravanshi in New Delhi and Parvaiz Bukhari in Srinagar

Millions of voters across India cast ballots in the second round of the world's biggest election Thursday amid violence and protests that highlighted the intensity of animosity in the campaign.

With more than a month to go before the marathon ends, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kept up a punishing schedule of rallies as he seeks a second term, while opposition leader Rahul Gandhi maintained attacks on the right wing Hindu nationalist government.

Voting went ahead in 95 of India's 543 constituencies, most of it peacefully, but with noticeable blackspots.

Security forces fired shotgun pellets and live bullets on protesters in Indian-Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, injuring three people, a police officer told AFP.

Police in West Bengal fired tear gas and baton-charged groups in Darjeeling district protesting because they said they had been prevented from voting.

A woman poll worker was killed by suspected Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Odisha hours before polling opened.

And in central Chhattisgarh state, security forces raided a Maoist jungle camp, killing two insurgents allegedly involved in an attack on an election convoy before the first round of voting that left five dead, police said.

More than 157 million of India's 900 million electorate were eligible to vote on the second of the seven rounds of voting. The last is on May 19 and final results will be released on May 23.

Polls in the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu could prove decisive in choosing the next prime minister and long lines formed outside polling stations.

But voting was cancelled in one Tamil Nadu constituency after about $1.5 million in cash -- believed to be intended as bribes -- was seized by police.

At some polling stations in tense Kashmir state, security forces outnumbered voters with tens of thousands of troops, paramilitaries and police deployed to the region for the vote.

Authorities closed down mobile internet services and set up barricades to block roads to thwart any attack. Groups of youths still hurled stones at them.

Outside one polling station, a 55-year-old man said he would not vote. "Our leaders have called for the boycott of all Indian elections," he said.

Kashmir surged into Modi's campaign after a February suicide bomb attack that killed 40 paramilitaries and brought India and Pakistan -- which each control part of Kashmir -- to the brink of war.

- Helicopter search storm -

Modi is seen as the favourite but faces an increasingly tough challenge from opposition Congress party leader Gandhi.

He was also caught up in a firestorm Thursday over an election official who was suspended after he insisted on searching Modi's helicopter.

The election commission said the search violated their rules on VIPs, but the Congress party slammed the decision on their official Twitter account.

"What is Modi carrying in his helicopter that he doesn't want India to see?" Congress asked in a Twitter statement.

In New Delhi, the spokesman for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) narrowly dodged a shoe thrown at him by a protester at a press conference at the party's headquarters.

Modi swept to power in a 2014 landslide with a promise of "achhe din" ("good days"), and as prime minister he has simplified the tax code and made doing business easier.

But despite growth of about seven percent a year, Asia's third-biggest economy has not provided enough jobs for the roughly one million Indians entering the labour market each month.

And in rural areas, thousands of indebted farmers have killed themselves in recent years.

Modi sought to counter critics of his campaign in a television interview this week when he said: "If farmers die, then it is an election issue, but when soldiers die then it is not an election issue? How can that be?"

Gandhi fired back in an interview with The Hindu daily, published Thursday, saying Modi's party was deliberately ignoring economic problems.

"The fact is that the biggest national security issue is unemployment," he said.

Gandhi, seeking to become the fourth member of his family to take the prime minister's office, has pledged to end abject poverty by 2030 and give cash transfers to 50 million families.

The BJP has promised a $1.4-trillion infrastructure blitz to create jobs.


More Related News

Modi surges to victory in India on Hindu-first platform
Modi surges to victory in India on Hindu-first platform

NEW DELHI (AP) - Narendra Modi, India's charismatic but polarizing prime minister, was headed Thursday for a landslide election victory, propelling his Hindu nationalist party to back-to-back majorities in parliament for the first time in decades.

Modi vows
Modi vows 'inclusive' India after landslide election win

Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed an "inclusive" future for all Indians on Thursday after a landslide election victory that crushed the Gandhi dynasty's comeback hopes once again. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!," Modi tweeted as delirious supporters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated nationwide.

Tea seller
Tea seller's son becomes India's Hindu nationalist hero

Master communicator and battle-hardened political scrapper, Narendra Modi fought his way off the streets to become one of India's most popular and polarising prime ministers. There is no middle ground between admirers and adversaries of the 68-year-old, who is on target to become the first leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to win two five-year terms. After helping his father run a railway station tea stall in the small Gujarat town of Vadnagar, Modi ran away as a teenager to devote his life to politics.

Narendra Modi wins landslide victory in Indian election
Narendra Modi wins landslide victory in Indian election

Narendra Modi swept back into power on Thursday as his Hindu nationalist party made unexpected gains in a landslide victory. After a mammoth six-week election in which over 600 million people voted, all the results were tallied on Thursday and within hours the TV networks predicted a win for Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Official data from the Election Commission showed Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party ahead in 300 of the 542 seats up for grabs, up from the 282 it won in 2014 and more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give his party the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984. "Together we grow," Mr...

China Faces New Competition as Japan, India Eye Sri Lanka Port
China Faces New Competition as Japan, India Eye Sri Lanka Port

The three countries are set to sign a memorandum of understanding in the coming months to build out the east container terminal at the Port of Colombo, according to an Indian government official who asked not to be identified, citing rules. India and Japan will seek private sector investment and a terminal operator after the framework agreement is signed, with India likely providing easy credit, the Indian official said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Latin America

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.