Opposition May Give a Strong Fight to Modi’s BJP in Coaching Capital Kota: India Votes

(Bloomberg) -- Each day, Bloomberg journalists take you across a selection of towns and cities as they gear up for the big vote.

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Hi, this is Swati Gupta and I write about Indian politics. Kota, my grandparents’ hometown in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, is set for an electoral battle on Friday with incumbent Om Birla, who is also the speaker of the current Lok Sabha, seeking a third straight term. The Bharatiya Janata Party veteran may find the going tough against Congress candidate Prahlad Gunjal, Birla’s erstwhile party-man who switched sides recently. The city, which I visited often for my summer vacations, once known for being home to all three kinds of major power plants — nuclear, hydro and thermal, is more in the news these days for mushrooming tutorial businesses and student suicides. Kota has seen massive growth in coaching business, as students from all over the country pay steep fees to prepare and be tutored for highly competitive admission exams for top technology and medical colleges. The ordeal was made famous recently by a Netflix series, Kota Factory, and is often in the news for the wrong reasons — rising cases of suicides among students who fail to make the cut.

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Modi has set a 400-seat target for his ruling coalition. To achieve that he’ll have to replicate the exceptional showing in northern India, win more seats in the south — which has so far proved immune to his charm — and wrest power in the restive eastern parts of the country.

India’s stocks are trying to stage a comeback after some intense selling last week, but they are unlikely to find an even keel this quarter as demanding valuations and election risk sap investor sentiment.

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Campaign Trail

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was declared the uncontested winner of the Surat seat in Gujarat after most rivals withdrew and the main opposition candidate’s application was rejected. Neither the Congress nor regional leader Mamata Banerjee can interfere with the Citizenship Amendment Act, a controversial law that discriminates against Muslim immigrants, Home Minister Amit Shah said at a rally.

Global Media

  • The BBC is reporting on the health of Arvind Kejriwal, a Modi opponent who had been jailed by investigative authorities for alleged money laundering. He has denied the charges and critics allege political persecution.

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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