Friday, April 11, 2014, 09:15
India's main opposition expected to gain in polls
By Xinhua in New Delhi

India's main opposition expected to gain in polls

Indian voters pose with their voting slips as they stand in line outside a polling station at Dabua village on the outskirts of Faridabad on Thursday, during the third stage of voting for national elections in the northern state of Haryana. (Sajjad Hussain / Agence France-Presse)

Voters in the Indian capital went to the polls on Thursday, the third day of the mammoth nine-phase general elections across the country, with experts predicting losses for the ruling Congress party.

Delhi's voters chose from 150 candidates, including 58 independents, who are vying for seven seats in the Lok Sabha - the 543-seat lower house of parliament.

The three major parties in the race are the ruling Congress party, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party.

Voting was brisk after the polls opened on Thursday morning and experts said the high turnout suggested gains for the opposition candidates, with the BJP expected to do particularly well.

Congress losses

"In the national capital, the Congress party knows it may not get even a single seat, going by its record in the Delhi Assembly polls in December last year. So, the fight is mainly between the BJP and the AAP, which faces an acid test," said Delhi-based political analyst S.K. Gupta.

"The BJP may emerge as the gainer as many people are unhappy with the AAP, which apparently ditched them by first forming the Delhi government with outside support from the Congress party and then the anti-graft party chief Arvind Kejriwal resigning as chief minister on frivolous grounds," he said.

The AAP did spectacularly well in its debut elections in December, bagging 28 out of 70 seats in Delhi to form the city government. Kejriwal, a former civil servant turned politician, was appointed chief minister for Delhi, but the government lasted only 49 days.

Political analyst Renu Roy said the AAP had lost credibility during its short period in power.

"Though it tried to do its best for the people during those 49 days in power, by suddenly resigning, the AAP lost its support base to a large extent in the national capital. People who voted for the party, which promised to wipe out corruption, felt betrayed by the AAP," he said.

'On a wave'

Experts predict that the BJP is likely to be the main beneficiary of the sliding popularity of the Congress party and the AAP.

"The BJP is riding on a wave of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi. People are fed up with the Congress for its involvement in a series of corruption scandals and its inability to check inflation. So, the BJP is on high ground in the Indian capital," said Delhi-based political analyst Ajay Singh.

The BJP may win all the parliamentary seats in Delhi, where all the top BJP leaders, including Modi, L.K. Advani and party chief Rajnath Singh, campaigned. In the 2009 general elections, Congress won all seven seats, while the BJP won none.

"It will be different this time," said Gupta. "The BJP's good performance in the general elections will pave the way for it to form the government when assembly elections are held in the national capital within months. The BJP last time got 32 out of 70 assembly seats. It will do better this time."

Modi has appealed to all people in the Indian capital through advertisements in all leading dailies: "Your vote for our seven candidates in Delhi is a vote for me. Vote for them and help me build a strong and prosperous India."

Some 814 million Indians are eligible to vote in the polls, which began on April 7 and will conclude on May 12, with results due on May 16.