India goes to polls from Friday to decide future of its democracy

NEW DELHI: India will begin its crucial general elections on Friday (tomorrow) amid hopes and fears for its troubled democracy.

According to report released by Kashmir Media Service, today, fascist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a hardcore Hindu nationalist leader to head the country, has his eyes on third consecutive term in power, the first time since Jawaharlal Nehru, while his rejuvenated rivals say he could lose.

Modi is of the view that he is confident of getting more than 400 seats in the 18th Lok Sabha, a brute majority of in the 545-seat lower house, a feat achieved only once by Rajiv Gandhi, the then prime minister who was killed by Tamil militants.

The Hindi fanatic BJP is optimistic to increase its tally from 303 to 370, the rest coming from other members of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). It is widely feared that Modi would seek to use the majority to change the constitution to align with his idea of Hindu Rashtra.

Modi’s hitherto fractious rivals comprising regional parties plus the Congress, recently cobbled the India National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc. They are pitching for the removal of the NDA from power for its “whimsical policies, narcissistic hegemony, communal avowal as well as violence against the minorities and the fear factor against any dissent”.

Ground reports reveal that there was no Modi wave evident in any part of the country, but these are early days. The biggest chunk of seats will be in the fray on Friday, covering 102 seats in 21 states. The remaining six phases of the polls, including the last leg on June 1, will make these the longest elections in memory. Security is cited as the reason, and it would involve the deployment of 3.4 lakh paramilitary forces in rotation.

West Bengal, where the Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to expand from the 18 of 42 seats it won last time, would see polls in all seven phases. A maximum of 92,000 Indian forces’ personnel are likely to be deployed there. The BJP had just two seats in the state in 2014.

The NDA is banking largely on the so-called Modi magic together with the Ram Mandir and the illegal abrogation of Article 370 in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Every BJP leader is reinforcing Hindutva, which otherises the Muslims. The BJP’s manifesto is personalised as ‘Modi ki Guarantee’, with the programmes of a decade-long rule listed. The Congress’s promise of ten forms of justice has fresh appeal: “We promise you greater freedom, faster growth, more equitable development and justice for all.”

The rub however is in the numbers. Modi’s 39 per cent votes got him 55 per cent seats in 2019. In so doing, he obviously won by dividing the 61 per cent votes cast for non-BJP parties.

The opposition sees in this a chance, which requires it to unite where it matters. The question is where Modi would find the extra 67 opposition seats while not losing any of his to account for the BJP’s goal of hitting 370 without allies.

The opposition sees an opening for itself in Modi’s northern stronghold. Much has changed since 2019 when he won all seven seats in Delhi, all 10 in Haryana, all 25 in Rajasthan, 25 of 48 in Maharashtra, 27 of 29 in Madhya Pradesh, all 26 in Gujarat, 62 of 80 in Uttar Pradesh, 22 of 40 in Bihar, all five in Uttarakhand and all four in Himachal Pradesh.

Congress criticizes Modi Government’s ‘Agnipath Scheme’ for Indian Army

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, criticized the BJP-Led Modi Government’s Agnipath scheme, aimed at recruiting armed forces.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the Congress leader labeled the scheme as a ploy to manipulate India’s military establishment for political gains.

Expressing disapproval, Gandhi emphasized that the Agnipath scheme is not a gesture of support for the Indian Army but rather a cunning strategy by the Modi administration.

He went on to denounce the scheme as an insult to the aspirations of courageous young individuals who aspire to serve and protect their nation.

Congress leaders echoed Gandhi’s sentiments, strongly opposing the Agnipath scheme. They vowed to dismantle it and ensure comprehensive economic and social security for the armed forces once Congress assumes power.

Furthermore, Gandhi disclosed disturbing details, alleging that funds allocated for soldiers’ pensions are being diverted to Adani Defense, a revelation that sparked outrage among critics. He pointed out that the Adani Group intends to collaborate with American and Israeli companies, utilizing resources from the Agnipath scheme.

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