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As India heads to the polls

9 3 26

The countdown to the Indian general election has begun, with polls to be conducted in seven stages beginning on April 11 and ending on May 19. At stake are 543 seats of the lower house, the Lok Sabha, that elects the country’s prime minister.

The election provides Indian voters an opportunity to judge the Modi government’s performance. With unemployment reaching levels not seen since the 1970s and a severe crisis in the farming sector, NDA, the ruling alliance led by Modi’s BJP is facing difficulties in retaining the clear majority it has enjoyed for five years.

But Modi had a plan. Stung by setbacks in the recently-held state elections, he has managed, at least for now, to divert the voters’ attention to terrorism – especially by using the Pulwama incident to provoke a showdown with Pakistan. The world’s leading news agencies are reporting that Modi is likely to benefit from tensions with Pakistan. Reports from India suggest that the ruling party might gain seats from the Modi-engineered warlike situation, which could fill the gap to reach a parliamentary majority. By the same token, the main opposition party Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, would fail to beat the ruling party.

Modi’s plan is not without glitches. The news of India’s air strike near Balakot, followed by a skirmish with the PAF, was so alarming that global big powers intervened immediately to ward........

© The News International