Counting has begun in India of more than 600 million votes cast in the country’s marathon six-week election.
This year’s polls, held over seven phases starting on 11 April, have been described as a contest for the soul of India, with Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government pitted against a disparate group of opposition parties including the Congress, whose secular vision has defined the country for most of the past 72 years.
Results from 542 lower-house constituencies – one fewer than usual, after authorities discovered £1.3m unaccounted cash in a south Indian party leader’s home and cancelled the poll there – started being counted at 8am local time (3.30am GMT), with results to be released progressively throughout the day.
Most exit polls show Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) on track to form government in coalition with smaller parties. Should the BJP cross the 272-seat majority mark on its own, or come close, it would mark a new era of Hindu nationalist hegemony in Indian politics fuelled by Modi’s extraordinary popularity.
At more than 1m polling booths across India on Thursday, election authorities under the supervision of party delegates will break the seals of the devices and check the total number of votes registered for each candidate. A handful of machines in each constituency will be cross-checked against paper receipts produced for every vote.
The release of exit polls on Sunday evening predicting a Modi landslide led to a chorus of accusations by opposition leaders that the machines had been hacked to favour the BJP. The complaints grew louder during the week with the publication of several pieces of footage showing machines being transported to and from polling booth in the backs of trucks. Election authorities say those machines were spares and that the ones in use were locked in secure rooms.
Source: The Guardian
BDST: 1017 HRS, MAY 23, 2019