India

Indian media praise voters' enthusiasm in Delhi

Indian voters wait in queues to cast their votes for the Delhi state election in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.
Image caption Long queues were seen at sever polling stations in Delhi

Newspapers see a record voter turnout of 67% in Delhi assembly elections as a "vibrant trend" for Indian democracy.

The Election Commission extended the closing deadline of 17:00 IST (11:30 GMT) by several hours to accommodate the surge in the numbers of voters on Wednesday, reports say.

The Times of India says Delhi "shattered its previous voting record with gusto" and the high turnout "points to a vibrant trend for Indian democracy".

Papers say last year's brutal gang-rape and murder of a student made women's safety a key election issue in Delhi.

"The enthusiasm shown by Delhi residents on Wednesday was in the making for the last one year. Incidents, such as the 16 December gang-rape last year, had spurred to people to have their say and more aware of their rights," says Hindustan Times.

Analysts say the entry of a new political group, the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party), also made the Delhi elections interesting and drew more voters.

Led by a former civil servant Arvind Kejriwal, the party was born out of a strong anti-corruption movement that swept India two years ago.

The Indian Express says the anti-corruption party's "aggressive and innovative campaign strategy was believed to be mainly responsible for the high turnout as it had devised its campaign around issues concerning both the state and the central governments".

Voting is now complete in the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and northern states of Delhi and Rajasthan.

The Election Commission will announce the results on 8th December.

Several leading exit polls are predicting a win for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Delhi is likely to get a hung assembly due to the fierce three-way battle between the ruling Congress, the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, exit polls suggest.

"If exit polls are to believed, the BJP has wrested the political momentum away from the Congress party," says the Mint website.

The north-eastern state of Mizoram also voted last month and results are expected to be announced on 9 December.

Mobile money

Moving on to international news, India is all set to supply "non-lethal" military hardware to Afghanistan.

The announcements comes ahead of Afghan president Hamid Karzai's three-day visit to India that will begin on 13 December, reports the Hindustan Times.

"Even though New Delhi is supportive of the Karzai regime, it is very cautious in supplying lethal weaponry to Kabul as it does not want Indian hardware to be used against the Afghan people in counterinsurgency situations", the report adds.

Staying with foreign affairs, Iran's Parsian Bank wants to starts talks with India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, to open a branch in the country.

"Trade without removing banking restrictions will not grow... we can have more trade [only] if this is solved," Iran's industry minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said.

This is the first meeting between the two countries after Iran "struck a compromise" with the US and five other nations on its nuclear programme, The Indian Express reports.

And finally, mobile payments are gaining traction among India's poor, with analysts saying mobile money transfers in the country could reach $350bn (£220bn) annually by 2015, reports the NDTV website.

"You will see more than 30% of this country's payments moving on a mobile device," the website quotes Sashank Joshi, the founder of MoneyOnMobile, as saying.

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