sunny.png
Wednesday October 16th, 2019 6:14PM

India votes in 1st phase of long polls seen as test for Modi

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW DELHI (AP) — At least one person was killed on the first day of polling in India's general elections, which are seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

A local leader of Andhra Pradesh state's ruling Telugu Desam party who police identified as Sidda Bhaskara Reddy was killed in a confrontation with supporters of a regional opposition party, YSR Congress. Violent clashes were also reported elsewhere in the state, where voters are casting ballots for 25 members of India's lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha, and 175 state assembly seats.

Outside of Andhra Pradesh, voting was taking place in 17 other Indian states and two Union Territories Thursday in the first of a seven-phase election staged over six weeks.

With 900 million of India's 1.3 people registered to vote, it is the world's largest democratic exercise. Over the course of the election, 543 Lok Sahba seats will be decided from about a million polling stations across India.

With Modi as their frontman, the BJP won a clear majority in 2014 elections. Under the leadership of political dynasty scion Rahul Gandhi, India's National Congress party, which ruled the country for about half a century since the 1947 independence, has struggled to coalesce India's many opposition parties into a coherent effort that could go head-to-head with the BJP. Surveys show the ruling party projected to come out first again in this year's polls, though with a smaller mandate.

Supporters of Modi say the tea seller's son from Gujarat state has improved the nation's standing in the world. India's economy has continued to grow under Modi, jostling with the United Kingdom for the fifth-largest in the world.

"I vote for the progress of my country," said businessman Manish Kumar after casting his ballot for the BJP in the Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh state.

Tapan Shome, an accountant, said he and his wife voted "to make India a good, prosperous country."

But India's growth hasn't meant a better employment outlook in the country, where an estimated 1 million people join the labor pool each month. According to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy, employment contracted in the year following a 2016 demonetization program to remove most of India's banknotes from circulation by 3.5 million jobs.

And Modi's critics say his party's Hindu nationalism has aggravated religious tensions and violence against Muslims and other minorities in constitutionally secular India.

Since a suicide bombing in disputed Kashmir killed 40 Indian paramilitary forces in February, the BJP campaign has played up the threat of Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Voting also began Thursday for two parliamentary seats in Kashmir, a Himalayan region split between India and Pakistan and claimed by both in its entirety, amid tight security and calls for a by Muslim separatists who say the polls are an illegitimate exercise. Armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear guarded polling stations and nearby roads.

In the northern Baramulla area, many people said they came out to vote only to express their disapproval of the BJP, calling it an "anti-Muslim" and "anti-Kashmiri" organization. The BJP's election manifesto promised to scrap decades-old special rights for Kashmiris under India's Constitution that prevent outsiders from buying property in the territory.

"I didn't want to vote but then there's an imminent threat by politicians like Modi who are up in arms against Kashmiris," said Abdul Qayoom, a voter in Baramulla town. "They've taken our rights, now they want to dispossess us from our land. We want to stop people like Modi."

The voting follows a sweeping crackdown with police arresting hundreds of Kashmiri leaders and activists. Authorities also banned the movement of civilian vehicles on a key highway to keep it open exclusively for military and paramilitary convoys two days a week during India's general election.

The first round Thursday could prove important for the BJP, which won only 32 of 91 seats in 2014 elections. It is seeking to improve its tally this time.

Voting concludes on May 19 and counting is scheduled for May 23.

___

Associated Press writers Omer Farooq in Hyderabad, India, Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India and Shonal Ganguly in New Delhi contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Elections, General Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
India votes in 1st phase of long polls seen as test for Modi
Polls have opened in the first phase of India's general elections in which 900 million people are eligible to vote in the world's largest democratic exercise
2:52AM ( 4 minutes ago )
The Latest: Scotland's Sturgeon voices 'relief' at extension
Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has voiced her "relief" that there won't be a 'no-deal' Brexit this Friday after Britain was granted an extension to Oct. 31 to leave the European Union.
2:42AM ( 13 minutes ago )
New Zealand's new gun laws get final assent to take effect
New Zealand's governor general has signed into effect sweeping gun laws outlawing military style weapons weeks after a man used such guns to kill 50 people at mosques in Christchurch
2:31AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: EU, UK agree to delay Brexit until Halloween
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the European Union has granted her "key request" to add an early exit clause to its agreement to a six-month Brexit extension
1:59AM ( 57 minutes ago )
Polls open in 1st phase of India's lengthy general election
Polls have opened in the first phase of India's general elections in which 900 million people are eligible to vote in the world's largest democratic exercise
1:32AM ( 1 hour ago )
AG Barr: 'I think spying did occur' against Trump campaign
Attorney General William Barr says he thinks "spying did occur" against Donald Trump's presidential campaign
1:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Ribbon cutting a last act for ousted Trump DHS officials
On her last day as Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen gathered employees for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new facility
11:51PM ( 3 hours ago )
Barr says 'I think spying did occur' against Trump campaign
Attorney General William Barr declared Wednesday he thinks "spying did occur" against Donald Trump's presidential campaign
11:39PM ( 3 hours ago )
Bomb cyclone storm hammering central US, disrupting travel
Bomb cyclone storm hammering central US, disrupting travel raising concerns of renewed flooding in the already drenched Midwest
11:38PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
2020 hopeful Castro holds Trump counter rally in San Antonio
Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro is using President Donald Trump's visit to his hometown as a chance to give a jolt to his own campaign
1:57AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Inslee: Forget impeaching Trump. Voting him out is better.
Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee says his party should scrap any thoughts of impeaching President Donald Trump and instead focus on voting him out of office in 2020
12:26AM ( 2 hours ago )
Inslee: Forget impeaching Trump. A 2020 defeat is better.
Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee says his party should scrap any thoughts of impeaching President Donald Trump and instead focus on voting him out of office in 2020
11:19PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Trump says his White House is friendly to unions
President Donald Trump tells union workers at a training facility in Crosby, Texas, that "American labor will always have a friend in the White House."
5:29PM ( 9 hours ago )
Pelosi to AP: 2020 Dem ticket doesn't have include a woman
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats don't have to nominate a woman for president or vice president in 2020
4:37PM ( 10 hours ago )
Sanders relaunches 'Medicare for All' with Dems divided
Sanders relaunches 'Medicare for All' plans amid divisions among Democrats
4:34PM ( 10 hours ago )
General Election News
The Latest: Scotland's Sturgeon voices 'relief' at extension
Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has voiced her "relief" that there won't be a 'no-deal' Brexit this Friday after Britain was granted an extension to Oct. 31 to leave the European Union.
2:42AM ( 13 minutes ago )
New Zealand's new gun laws get final assent to take effect
New Zealand's governor general has signed into effect sweeping gun laws outlawing military style weapons weeks after a man used such guns to kill 50 people at mosques in Christchurch
2:31AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: UK business says Brexit extension averts crisis
One of Britain's leading business lobby groups says the Brexit extension granted to the country at a summit in Brussels overnight means an "imminent economic crisis" has been averted.
2:31AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Trump's Golan move causes concern in Lebanon for land owners
Trump's move to recognize Israel's sovereignty over Golan sets off Lebanon worries over its claim to disputed territory
2:28AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Pavelski's painful goal leads Sharks past Golden Knights 5-2
Joe Pavelski took a puck off his chin to score the opening goal and the San Jose Sharks raced past the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of their first-round series
2:28AM ( 27 minutes ago )