UK & World News

  • 16 May 2014, 7:24

India Elections: BJP Beats Congress Party

Opposition candidate Narendra Modi is set to be the next prime minister of India, after India's Congress party conceded defeat in the country's national elections.

The nation "voted against us", a Congress Party spokesman said after earlier polls suggested India's BJP Party would sweep to victory, ending the ruling Congress Party's 10-year grip on power.

After the last day of voting, exit polls indicated a decisive victory for Narendra Modi, his right-wing Hindu Bharitya Janata Pty (BJP) and its allies.

Political pundits have not only been hard on the 10-year term of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but also the Gandhi family-run Congress Party.

The downward spiral of the economy in particular has been the main issue in these elections.

Growth has halved from almost double digits, inflation and unemployment is on the rise and foreign investments have reduced to a trickle.

An estimated 2,000 projects, worth billions of dollars are either awaiting clearance, have stalled or been abandoned since 2008. 

Coupled with this, the government was hit by a series of corruption scandals. Though no one accuses the squeaky clean Prime Minister of corruption his image of heading a corrupt government means his party has taken a severe beating. 

The government has claimed that their welfare schemes on education, employment and food have lifted over 114 million people out of poverty.

But, even though spending in the social sector increased almost six fold from 2005 to 2013, India's ranking on the UN Human Development Index slipped from 127 in 2004 to 136 in 2012.

The Global Hunger Index of 2013 places India in the "alarming category" indicating serious concerns about food and nutrition. It is one of the three countries not in the Sub Saharan Africa which fell into this category.

The 2014 elections pitted 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi, leading the centre-left Congress Party, against Mr Modi, 63, of the BJP.

Mr Gandhi has the privilege of coming from the first family of Indian politics.

His great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India. His grandmother Indira Gandhi and then his father Rajiv Gandhi also went on to lead the country.

Rahul's Italian-born mother Sonia Gandhi has been president of the Congress Party for the last 16 years.

Mr Modi, on the other hand, has sold his so-called "Gujarat model" of development and good governance as an alternative to win over voters.

Every rally he invokes the success of his time running Gujarat state and promises to replicate it across the country.

He is said to have covered 200,000 miles in his campaign, addressing 477 rallies and attending over 5000 events across the length and breadth of the country.

Decisive and frugal in his lifestyle, Mr Modi has no relatives in politics, although he is accused of favouring a few industrialists.

Nevertheless people see in him as someone who can bring about change and improve their lives. 

A senior Congress leader, who did not want to be named, earlier told Sky News: "If the party loses very badly it will help Rahul (Gandhi) clean up this behemoth (Congress) and make it a lean, mean fighting machine for 2019 under his leadership."

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