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Indian elections enter second half in fourth round of voting

Indian elections enter second half in fourth round of voting

Millions of Indians in 96 constituencies began voting on Monday, as the mammoth elections of India, which last six weeks, were entering their second half. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a third term and aims to achieve a supermajority in Parliament.

The fourth round of national elections, taking place on Monday in nine states and one united territory, would be crucial for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, because it included some of its strongholds in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhaya. Pradesh.

Crucial seats in Maharashtra and Bihar, where the BJP rules in alliances with regional parties, were also being decided in this phase.

In the city of Samastipur, in Bihar, hundreds of people lined up at a polling station that opened at 7 a.m. amid tight security. Voters said they were concerned about high food prices, lack of jobs and economic development in the state.

Most polls predicted a victory for Modi and his BJP, which faces a diverse opposition alliance led by the Indian National Congress party and powerful regional parties.

The phased elections last until June 1 and almost 970 million voters, more than 10% of the world’s population, will elect 543 members of the lower house of parliament for five years. The count is scheduled for June 4.

Polls will also end on Monday in the country’s five southern states, a region that has largely rejected Modi’s BJP since it came to power in 2014, but where winning more seats is crucial to the party’s efforts to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Kashmir’s largest city, Srinagar, was also voting on Monday in the first elections since Modi’s government stripped the disputed region of its partial autonomy and took direct control of the territory in 2019. Despite describing the operation as a success that would bring economic development to the region, the BJP is not present in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, where anti-India sentiment runs deep.

Although Modi began his campaign by emphasizing India’s development in his 10 years in power, in recent weeks he has focused on his party’s Hindu nationalist positions.

At campaign rallies, Modi has called Muslims “infiltrators” and accused the opposition Congress party of hatching a plan to redistribute the wealth of the country’s Hindus to Muslims, who represent the 14% of the more than 1,400 million inhabitants of the country.

“Agitating Hindu vs. Muslim issues will get us nowhere,” said Nikhilesh Mishra, a 42-year-old bank employee in Samastipur.

He said the BJP-led alliance in Bihar, which won an overwhelming majority in the 2019 polls, has not brought development to the state, which is among the poorest in India.

Mishra pointed out that rising inflation and unemployment are causing youth to migrate to other states, depriving the region of its talent. “We want development (…) This time we want change in the government”said.

For his part, Modi seemed confident in the BJP’s chances in Bihar and on Monday told New Delhi Television that his alliance would do better than in 2019, when it lost a seat.

“This time we may not even lose.”said.

Some analysts say the change in tone of Modi’s campaign is due to the BJP trying to consolidate votes among the Hindu majority, which is the 80% of the electorate, and distract voters from important issues such as unemployment, corruption and inflation.

Although India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, many people continue to suffer economic hardship, something that has been a key issue in the opposition campaign.

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Source: Gestion

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