India

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

  • 30 April 2014
  • From the section India

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.

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.

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.

Image copyright Bhasker Solanki
Image caption Mr Modi was mobbed by frenzied crowds when he arrived at the polling booth
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The governing Congress party is being led by its vice-president Rahul Gandhi
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Brisk polling was reported throughout the day in Andhra Pradesh
Image copyright AP
Image caption 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.

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.

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