April 26, BENGALURU/MATHURA, India – The world’s largest election took place in India on Friday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his opponents accusing each other of discriminating against religion and threatening democracy in the face of declining voter turnout.
The seven-phase general election, which started on April 19 and ends on June 1, is open to over one billion voters. Votes are expected to be tabulated on June 4.

Because to his economic track record, welfare initiatives, sense of pride in the country, Hindu nationalism, and general popularity, Modi is running for an unprecedented third consecutive term. According to surveys, he will easily secure a sizable majority.
With the formation of an alliance of over twenty parties, his opponents are pledging increased affirmative action, increased subsidies, and an end to what they perceive to be Modi’s dictatorial leadership.
On Friday, 160 million voters in 13 states and federal territories, representing 88 of the lower house of parliament’s 543 seats, went to the polls.

The estimated voter turnout at the conclusion of polling on Friday was 61%, which was less than the 68% turnout in the second phase five years ago and the 65% turnout in the first phase last week.
Unusually hot weather and weddings in some areas of the nation are worries for the Election Commission and political parties over voter participation.
The devoted Hindu nationalist base of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may not be stepping out owing to complacency or overconfidence, analysts say, and lower turnout is the outcome. No single issue is powerful enough to draw voters out this time.

The southern states of Kerala and Karnataka, as well as the northwest state of Rajasthan, accounted for more than half of the seats up for grabs on Friday.
Since the first round of voting on April 19, there has been increased tension in the campaign between Modi and the main opposition Congress party on communal issues. Modi has accused Congress of favoring minority Muslims, trying to weaken affirmative action, and preparing to introduce an inheritance tax.
The claims have been refuted by Congress, which asserts that Modi is using divisive language to divert voters’ attention from more pressing concerns including rural hardship, rising prices, and unemployment out of fear of losing.

However, a few voters were reacting to the BJP.
My vote will go to the BJP. “If Congress wins, Muslims will benefit greatly, and I don’t want tax dollars to support any particular group,” stated 23-year-old Shree Hari S.S., a voter in Bengaluru’s tech district.
Some expressed dissatisfaction with what they perceived as a sectarian turn in politics.

Sokin Qureshi, 29, an unemployed Muslim voter in the northern city of Mathura, claimed that the BJP was “using temples and mosques to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims, to move away from real issues such as unemployment and rising prices.”

The face of the party and former president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, was one of the 1,200 candidates running for office on Friday.
“This election is not a regular election… because one party and one person is trying to finish the constitution and democracy of India for the first time in the history of India,” Gandhi declared during an election rally in the Karnataka region, which holds its polls the following week.
Gandhi is running for reelection from Wayanad in Kerala, where the Left Front is in power. He will face opponents including K. Surendran of the BJP and Annie Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Gandhi won the most votes in Kerala in 2019 over the CPI candidate, but he lost his second seat to the BJP in the northern Indian state of Amethi, a stronghold for families. In India, a candidate may run for many seats, but they may only retain one if they win multiple times.
After the BJP swept the party out of office in 2014, the Congress party hit a record low. In 2019, it won 52 seats, the second-lowest number ever, with Kerala giving the highest total of 15.

In Karnataka, where it only won one of the state’s 28 seats in 2019, the party is anticipated to perform better this year. However, last year’s state elections saw a surge in support as it trounced the BJP.
Its challenge to Modi has been hindered by graft cases against certain leaders and internal opposition alliance squabbles, which is why it is still perceived as being in difficulties nationwide.
“Phase Two has been too good!” Once the voting was over, Modi posted on X. “The unprecedented backing for the NDA is going to dishearten the Opposition even more,” he uttered, alluding to the National Democratic Alliance, which is run by the Indian National Congress.

By newsparviews.com

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