India election: Narendra Modi accused of poll law violation as millions vote

Sanjoy Majumder reports on the "tremendous show of support" for Narendra Modi

India's Election Commission has accused the main opposition BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of violating the election code.

He breached poll laws by flashing his party's symbol and making a political speech while voting was going on in the seventh phase of the election, it said.

Mr Modi addressed journalists and supporters after casting his vote in his home state of Gujarat.

He later posted a "selfie" of his inked finger on Twitter.

Analysis

As Mr Modi's convoy arrived at the polling station, it was greeted with frenzied celebrations. His supporters had taken up positions all along the street - young, old, women and even young children among them.

There were others on the roofs of surrounding buildings, competing for space with security personnel and snipers deployed to protect the man whom most Gujaratis want to see installed as India's next PM.

Chants of "Modi, Modi" split the air as he emerged from the polling station only to be swallowed up by a sea of people. He waved to the crowds, flashing a victory sign as his security detail fought hard to keep his supporters at bay.

After a short exchange with the waiting media, which included several international teams, he was off leaving behind a trail of dust.

His supporters, though, lingered on. "He's winning handsomely, you mark my word," one of them said. "And once he becomes PM, he'll be in the post until he dies."

India's general election, with 814 million eligible voters, is the world's biggest exercise in democracy and the governing Congress party is battling the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for power. Mr Modi is ahead in all the opinion polls.

He was greeted by cheering crowds lining the streets and on rooftops as he arrived at the polling station in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's biggest city. Voting was held in all 26 seats in the state.

Andhra Pradesh also voted on Wednesday for the last time as a united state before it is divided on 2 June.

Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh were among seven states and two union territories where 139 million eligible voters had to make their choice between some 1,300 candidates contesting 89 seats on Wednesday.

In trouble

"The BJP will form a stable government in Delhi soon," Mr Modi said after casting his vote.

"The Congress party has already conceded defeat... It is the end of the mother-son government," he added, in a reference to the Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.

Start Quote

A vote for the BJP is a vote for Mr Modi - nobody really appears to care or talk about the local BJP candidate ”

End Quote

But photographs of an upbeat Mr Modi holding a small white lotus flower, shown on television screens across India, have landed him in trouble with the Election Commission.

The commission said it had seen the video recordings of Mr Modi's speech and that it was evident that it was "a political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections in the constituencies voting today". It has now ordered the authorities to register a case against him.

A spokesperson for the BJP said Mr Modi had done nothing wrong and that the party would respond to the Election Commission notice.

If found guilty, Mr Modi could be sent to jail for up to two years or asked to pay a fine, or both, but correspondents say it is unlikely to happen.

Modi arrives to vote in Ahmedabad Mr Modi was mobbed by frenzied crowds when he arrived at the polling booth
Supporters hold a placard as they watch Congress Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi speak at an election rally in Hyderabad on April 25, 2014. The governing Congress party is being led by its vice-president Rahul Gandhi
A tribal woman leaves after casting her vote at a polling centre during the seventh phase of India"s general election, in Rangareddy district in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh April 30, 2014. Brisk polling was reported throughout the day in Andhra Pradesh
A Kashmiri woman from the nomadic Gujjar tribe after voting in Kashmir on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Voting was also held in Srinagar constituency in Indian-administered Kashmir

Mr Modi is standing for election in two seats - in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi as well as Vadodara in Gujarat. If he wins both seats, he will have to relinquish one.

In Andhra Pradesh - where voting for state assemblies is also taking place - brisk polling was reported through the day.

POLLING DAYS

  • 7 April - 2 states, 6 constituencies
  • 9 April - 5 states, 7 constituencies
  • 10 April - 14 states, 91 constituencies
  • 12 April - 4 states, 7 constituencies
  • 17 April - 12 states, 121 constituencies
  • 24 April - 12 states, 117 constituencies
  • 30 April - 9 states, 89 constituencies
  • 7 May - 7 states, 64 constituencies
  • 12 May - 3 states, 41 constituencies
  • Counting of votes - 16 May

A large number of veiled Muslim women and old men sporting flowing beards stood in long queues waiting patiently for their turn to cast vote, BBC Hindi's Zubair Ahmad says.

In Hyderabad city, scores of people complained that their names were missing from the voters' list and in some polling centres electronic voting machines did not work.

The 17 parliamentary constituencies in Andhra Pradesh going to the polls on Wednesday are to be part of the newly-created state of Telangana.

Voting for the remaining 25 parliamentary seats which will constitute Andhra Pradesh after the state is split in two will be held on 7 May.

The marathon general election, which began on 7 April, will conclude on 12 May. Votes will be counted on 16 May.

Map of India's electoral stages 7 April-12 May

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