Modi Faces Challenge From Opposition Politician Out on Bail in Delhi Elections

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Hi, this is Vrishti Beniwal. I track the pulse of the Asian capital markets as an editor in New Delhi. My constituency is Chandni Chowk, nestled in the heart of the national capital. It is one of India’s culinary hotspots known for mouthwatering kebabs and spicy chaat, apart from a rich heritage and a bustling shopping district. Congested narrow roads and water shortages will be on top of the minds of voters, including my family, when they head to polling booths on May 25. Elections in Delhi are tough to predict. Citizens handed over a second consecutive landslide mandate to opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal’s party in state elections and then helped Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party win all seven federal parliament seats here in 2019 national polls. Modi is now in a pitched battle with Kejriwal, in an attempt to retain the seven constituencies. In Chandni Chowk, the BJP has fielded a local businessman hoping to secure the votes of the vast trading community and win for the third straight time. A united opposition may sour his plans, especially with attention focused on Kejriwal after he was released on bail; Modi’s government alleges corruption, Kejriwal says he is being politically persecuted.

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Modi’s BJP is executing a campaign to tap into the influence and prestige of India’s prosperous global diaspora, which sends back about $125 billion in remittances annually, the largest of any country. While Indian citizens overseas can register to vote, they must travel home to cast their ballots, and few make the trip.

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Campaign Trail

India’s Election Commission barred BJP candidate and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Ganguly from campaigning for 24 hours for his disparaging remarks against the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Congress party’s President Mallikarjun Kharge said that Modi should walk the talk and quit public life for indulging in Hindu-Muslim rhetoric. Meanwhile, Modi alleged that the Congress-led INDIA alliance was communal, casteist and dynastic.

Global Media

Reuters reported that foot soldiers of BJP’s Hindu nationalist parent have stepped in to help regain momentum as Modi faces voter fatigue and resistance from a resurgent opposition.

The Washington Post reported about how political allegiances in India are influenced by pragmatism, personal loyalties — even bribes — as much as they are by deeply held convictions.

Who Votes This Week?

India’s mammoth election runs through June 1, with counting scheduled for June 4. This map from the Election Commission of India shows which constituencies vote when.

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