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Marathon elections in India: Prime Minister Modi votes in his native state

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently seeking a third term in general elections, voted Tuesday, amid criticism from the opposition who accuse him of denigrating Muslim minorities.

Mr. Modi emerged from a polling station in the city of Ahmedabad, in his native state of Gujarat (west), surrounded by security agents, showing one of his fingers marked with indelible ink on supporters who cheered him.

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Political analysts gave him the winner even before the start of the elections which have been taking place since April 19, in seven phases, until June 1.

In total, 968 million Indians are called to elect the 543 members of the lower house, more than the total population of the United States, the European Union and Russia combined .

The cantor of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is still very popular after two terms during which India increased its diplomatic influence and economic weight.

He gave the BJP two landslide victories in 2014 and 2019 by playing on the religious fiber of the Hindu electorate.

Marathon elections in India: Prime Minister Modi votes in his native state

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the crowd on May 7, 2024 in Ahmedabad © AFP – Sajjad HUSSAIN

The Prime Minister presents his own candidacy in Varanasi, the ancient Benares, sacred city of Hinduism, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which will only vote in the seventh and final phase of the vote on June 1.

India's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, 53, is fighting to retain the Congress seat of Wayanad in Kerala state, stronghold of opponents of the BJP.

– “Directly sectarian” –

The opposition and rights defenders denounce certain democratic decline and accuse Mr. Modi of favoring Hindus, the majority in the country, to the detriment of significant minorities, including 210 million Muslim Indians, worried about their future.

Conversely, Mr. Modi accused the Congress, the main opposition party, of wanting to distribute “national wealth” to “infiltrators”, “to those who have the most children”, thus designating the Muslim community.

Outraged, the opposition contacted the electoral authorities who did not sanction the Prime Minister. However, India is constitutionally secular and its electoral code prohibits any campaign based on “communal sentiments”.

“I didn't know him to be so directly sectarian, usually he's more allusive,” said Hartosh Singh Bal, editor of the news magazine The Caravan.

“The comment on wealth redistribution addressed a subject that simply does not exist in the Congressional agenda,” he added.

Marathon elections in India: Prime Minister Modi votes in his native state

Photo released by the Press Information Bureau of India (PIB), on January 22, 2024, of Prime Minister Narendra Modi carrying an offering during the inauguration of the Ram Mandir temple in Ayodhya © GDP – –

Earlier this year, Narendra Modi inaugurated a large Hindu temple in Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh) dedicated to the deity Ram, built on the site of the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu fanatics in 1992.

The inauguration of the temple, eagerly awaited by BJP activists, benefited from extensive media coverage and public festivities throughout India.

– “Unworthy of a democracy” –

Since Mr. Modi came to power, India has been ranked 159th out of 180 countries in the world freedom rankings of the press established by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which considers this “place unworthy of a democracy”.

In a recent interview with the daily Times of India, Narendra Modi has refuted any autocratic drift, accusing the opposition of “defaming” India abroad.

Turnout in the general elections has so far been lower than that of of 2019, with analysts attributing this decline to “a certain disinterest” among voters, others to the heat wave sweeping across the country.

In Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), where it was 41°C on April 26, polling day, the electoral commission noted a drop of almost nine points in the participation rate compared to 2019.

Marathon elections in India: Prime Minister Modi votes in his native state

Voters wait to cast their votes during the second stage of the general elections on April 26, 2024 in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh state, India © AFP – Money SHARMA

Meteorological services are forecasting scorching temperatures in the coming days in several states, including Madhya Pradesh and Bihar which will vote in this third phase.

In the state of Telangana where the polls will take place later in May, the authorities announced that electoral offices would remain open for an extra hour, due to the heatwave .

This exceptional heat is currently affecting South and Southeast Asia. According to experts, climate change is resulting in more frequent, more intense and longer heat waves.


All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116