Saturday , June 22 2024

Modi seeks 3rd term in 2024 poll with a billion Indian voters


Bureau Report + Agencies

NEW DELHI: In India’s election is the world’s largest electoral exercise with more than 18 million people voting for the first time.

While polls project Prime Minister Narendra Modi will win a third term, new voters like Roushan Kumar are determined to make their voices count.

“I will vote for a party that works for development in education. I will vote for a party that will provide employment, so that there are jobs,” Kumar, a Modi supporter, told media.

Kumar’s priorities match many of those his age. Rising tensions between religious groups, inflation and lack of jobs were the top concerns emerging from Modi’s decade-long rule, according to a survey of 1,290 first-time voters in New Delhi by pollsters CSDS-Lokniti.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled said they would vote for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party given the government’s strong record of economic growth, amid a sense of pride over the construction of a massive Hindu temple.

Both Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and his opponent Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party put out humorous videos to reach audiences less likely to be swayed by rallies and traditional political campaigning.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 10 years in charge have coincided with a boom in India’s financial markets.

As this chart shows, India stocks are up more than 200% over his time in power, roughly four times more than the next best big emerging market Brazil, and infinitely better than China’s battered market which is down 8%.

On the flip side, the rupee has been having a tough time and has been hitting record lows in recent weeks.

US-based think-tank Freedom House dropped India’s status from free to “partly free” in 2021, a rank it has maintained.

It cited a rise in persecution affecting Muslims, harassment of journalists and government critics, the targeting of political opponents and the economic and social marginalization of some minority groups among its reasons for the ranking.

The 2021 report said Modi and his party were driving India toward “authoritarianism”, adding that political rights and civil liberties had deteriorated since he came to power in 2014 and the decline accelerated after his re-election in 2019.

The federal government, led by Modi, condemned the report, saying the ranking was faulty and also many states in the country were governed by other regional and opposition parties. It also denied it was targeting its critics and opposition parties.

Since 1973, Freedom House has assessed political rights and civil liberties around the world. Its reports are used as references by policymakers, journalists and others.

“Modi will come back to power, because apart from the religious push, his other work, in areas such as safety and security, is good,” said Abdul Sattar, 32, a Muslim voter in the city of Kairana in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

Surveys suggest Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP will easily win a majority even though voters worry about unemployment, inflation and rural distress in the world’s fastest growing major economy.

Hindu nationalism is a key election theme, especially after Modi’s January consecration of a grand temple to the God-king Lord Ram on a site in the northern city of Ayodhya believed to be his birthplace.

Friday’s phase is the first and largest of seven, covering 166 million voters in 102 constituencies across 21 states and territories, from Tamil Nadu in the south to Arunachal Pradesh on the Himalayan frontier with China.

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