People line up to cast their votes outside a polling station during the third phase of the general election in Kochi, India on Tuesday. Sivaram V/Reuters
Voting began in the third and largest phase of India’s staggered general election on Tuesday, including in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat and southern Kerala, where opposition Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi is contesting.
In all, 188 million voters are eligible to cast ballots in 117 constituencies during the day - across 15 states and federally-controlled territories.
The general election, which has seven phases, began on April 11 and will end on May 19. Votes will be counted on May 23.
“This is, sort of, an inflection point,” said Rahul Verma, a fellow at the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research, with more than half of India’s parliamentary constituencies having voted by the end of the third phase. The country’s parliament has 545 members.
So far, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has aggressively pushed Modi’s national security record as it seeks to offset the opposition’s charges of economic mishandling, inadequate jobs creation and widespread farm distress.
“I think job creation, sustainable development, and communal harmony should be the top priorities for the upcoming government,” said Ubaidullah Mohyideen, 26, who voted on Tuesday in Kerala’s Wayanad, one of the two seats that Gandhi is contesting.
At an election rally in western Maharashtra state on Monday, Modi mentioned the attacks on Sri Lankan hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that killed 290 people before saying India’s security had been enhanced after his government came to power in 2014.
“Friends, remember what India’s situation was before 2014,” Modi said. “Weren’t there bombs going off in different corners of the country every other day?”
Verma said Modi’s repeated reference to the Sri Lankan attacks were a sign that the BJP would double down on the security issue for the remainder of the election campaign, which the prime minister began as a front-runner amid escalated tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.
“I feel BJP is hell-bent on running this campaign on national security,” Verma said. “Basically if they bring up any other thing, they would be on a difficult terrain, like on economic issues or on their performance.”
In late February, Modi sent warplanes to Pakistan to bomb a purported training camp in response to a suicide attack in India-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian paratroopers. The attack was claimed by an Islamist militant group based in Pakistan.
India has raised its import duty on wheat to 40 per cent from 30 per cent, the government said late on Friday, as the world’s No.2 producer of the grain tries to support local farmers
India’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points on Thursday, in a widely expected move to boost the economy, while keeping its monetary policy stance “neutral” despite subdued inflation.
Despite tall claims made by Facebook that it is removing 10 lakh fake accounts a day in India, a survey revealed on Tuesday that one in two Indians has received fake news in the last 30 days and Facebook and WhatsApp are the platforms which are being used excessively to misinform the users.
Voters across swaths of southern India began queueing up early on Thursday in the second phase of a mammoth, staggered general election in which opposition parties are trying to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a second term.
The UAE’s first astronaut, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, documented his training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, through a 60-second video, which he posted as a story on his personal Instagram account.
Sharjah Media City (Shams) organised a Film Scoring Masterclass, as part of the UAE Entertainment Experience, the first of its kind project aimed at producing the first crowd-sourced film in the Arab World.
The International Photography Festival (Xposure 2019), now in its fourth year, has unveiled five outdoor exhibitions across popular malls and public venues in Dubai and Sharjah, in its bid to continue offering the very best of modern photography to the UAE public on its prestigious platform.