Indians vote in penultimate phase of seven-round general election

2019-05-13 06:23:33 GMT2019-05-13 14:23:33(Beijing Time) Sina English

Voters in north India lined up early on Sunday to cast their ballots in the second-to-last round of a seven-phase general election, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi facing a diverse group of opposition parties seeking to deny him a second term.

More than 100 million people across seven states are eligible to vote in the sixth phase of the 39-day-long poll, which Modi began on April 11 as front-runner after an escalation of tension with neighboring Pakistan.

But opposition parties have recently taken heart at what they see as signs ­Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party may be losing ground and have begun negotiations over a post-election alliance even before polling ends on May 19. Votes will be counted on May 23.

The president of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, said the main issues in the election were unemployment, distress in the countryside, the demonetization of bank notes and a new sales tax.

A lack of new jobs - despite annual economic growth of about 7 percent - and the plight of farmers struggling with falling crop prices have been major ­worries for voters. A new good and services tax, as well as Modi's shock ban on all high-value currency notes in 2016, hurt small and medium businesses.

Some voters in the capital, New Delhi, said they were backing Modi because they were won over by his tough stand on security.

Indian warplanes attacked what the government said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in February, soon after a suicide car bomb attack in the disputed Kashmir region killed 40 police officers.

The aggressive response stirred nationalist passions that pollsters said could favor Modi in the election.


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