India’s electoral marathon ends. Exit polls: Modi set for second mandate
Yesterday the last phase of voting. The results will be released on May 23rd. Interviews outside the polls see the Prime Minister's Bharatiya Janata Party in clear advantage over Rahul Gandhi's Congress. The most bitter election campaign in Indian history; numerous violence against minorities.
New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The 39-day Indian electoral marathon ended yesterday. Beginning last 11 April, the votes to re-elect the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) and some state assemblies were held in seven phases.
The counting of votes will start on May 23rd and the results are expected on the same day. According to the exit polls - which analysts urge caution given the errors of the previous rounds - Prime Minister Narendra Modi is well on his way to re-election to a second five year term ì. This morning, given the electoral projections that favored him, the prime minister said he was "confident" in the victory.
The Indian Electoral Commission reports that about 66% of citizens went to the polls, out of 900 million voters. The number is higher than 58% of the participation in 2014. Yesterday's vote was marked by violence in West Bengal, where rival factions in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Bjp) of Modi and Trinamool Congress of local leader Mamata Banerjee. Authorities deployed 57,000 policemen to polling stations in the city of Calcutta and on its outskirts. The state sends 42 deputies to parliament and is one of the key territories of the Indian elections.
The round will be won by the party or coalition that obtains 272 seats out of a total of 543 seats in Parliament. The majority are the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bjp of Prime Minister Modi, and the Congress Party, of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, led by Rahul Gandhi.
Exit polls foresee that Modi's alliance is headed towards victory with even more overwhelming numbers than in 2014, when it had obtained 336 seats (282 of the BJP alone). India Today-Axis surveys see the NDA lead with 339-365 seats, with the Congress at a great distance and preferences ranging between 77 and 108 seats.
The 2019 electoral campaign has been the most bitterly contested in Indian history, often conducted in fierce tones by radical Hindu nationalists: in one of these episodes, a holy woman declared that Christians and Muslims "should be forcibly sterilized".
The past few weeks have been marked by numerous episodes of intolerance towards minorities. There have been several attacks against Christian places of worship, faithful and pastors; the faithful of Islam, on the other hand, suffered for the most part discrimination linked to the eating habits of the community: the most serious episode was that of an Assam man attacked by the "cow protectors" because he was transporting cow meat (sacred animal for Hinduism), made to kneel and forced to eat pork (prohibited by the Islamic religion).
As regards the themes proposed by the political factions, the BJP has focused on the revival of economic growth, women's representation and a welfare system for farmers; the Congress has passed a minimum income tax law for all citizens.
There has been criticism of the BJP for the promises not kept in the first mandate: by sewer cleaners, mostly Dalits, forced to perform one of the most degrading jobs for man; by poor farmers, for the agrarian crisis and the very high number of suicides of farmers who are unable to repay the loans; by intellectuals and activists, for the limitation of individual freedom and freedom of speech, violations of human rights, the climate of persecution of minorities and the use of nationalist rhetoric; by economists, for the failure to create jobs and the slowdown of the economy due to two reckless financial reforms (rupee ban and law on goods and services).