Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked on course Thursday for a major victory in the world’s largest election, with early trends suggesting an even bigger win for his Hindu nationalist party than in 2014
DESPARDES News Monitor — India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to return to power, as it is leading in 292 seats while the main opposition Congress is far behind with 51 seats, according to latest trends released by the Election Commission.
The trends show that the BJP would improve its 2014 performance when it emerged victorious in 282 seats in the 543- member Lok Sabha [lower house of parliament]. The halfway mark is 272 – necessary to claim power.
Almost all exit polls had predicted a landslide win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the return of his National Democratic Alliance [NDA] government in 2019 general elections.
The polls also witnessed the highest voter turnout of 67% in the history of general elections.
Modi’s nemesis Rahul Gandhi, the president of India’s main opposition Congress party of Congress lost criticizing the highly charged election process this time. Michael Kugelman explains in his op-ed the parallels between President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Modi: “Echoes of Trump in Modi’s border politics“.
Gandhi sent out an angry tweet: “From Electoral Bonds & EVMs to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, “Modi’s Army” & now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi & his gang is obvious to all Indians.”
The Election Commission (EC) charged with upholding the guidelines governing the world’s largest democratic exercise, has come under fire for being nothing more than a “toothless tiger”.
“The EC used to be feared & respected. Not anymore,” Gandhi added.
Rahul, whose first stint at the national election was in 2014 and lost, has to wait for the next election (2024) to try (again) beating Modi and the ultra-nationalist BJP party, an Indian-American commented.
According to BBC Hindi’s Vineet Khare, the limits of all EC guidelines have been severely tested, mostly by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Here are a few examples according to BBC: a biopic on Mr Modi; a 24×7 TV channel that streamed his speeches; India’s trains serving passengers tea in paper cups emblazoned with BJP poll slogans; and the country’s national carrier, Air India, issuing boarding passes that carried ads from a 2018 business summit featuring a picture of Mr Modi.
All of this exposed loopholes in the guidelines triggered a furious response from opponents and observers, all of whom complained to the EC.
“But the problem, experts say according to BBC, is that the model code isn’t a law, so it doesn’t include punishments, is voluntary for all parties, and only remains in place until polls are completed.”
Modi met party workers later in afternoon in the party headquarters, to deliver victory speech.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin sent congratulatory telegram to Modi in connection “with the convincing victory of the BJP at the general parliamentary elections.”
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted, “Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a strong mandate from the people of India. The government & the people of Afghanistan look forward to expanding cooperation between our two democracies”.
And Indian stock market hit record high amid celebrations of Modi’s return.
With the world’s largest electorate of nearly 900 million, elections were held in seven phases. The voting that began on April 11, ended on May 19.