India

Indian media: Crucial voting phase

Congress president Sonia Gandhi is a candidate from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh state Image copyright AFP
Image caption Congress president Sonia Gandhi is a candidate from Rae Bareli constituency in Uttar Pradesh state

Media feel the seventh phase of India's general election is "a make or break day" for many prominent politicians.

Voting is in progress on Wednesday in 89 constituencies spread across seven states and two union territories.

"The seventh phase is crucial for both the ruling Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as the two parties won 35 and 23 seats respectively from this lot in the last general elections," says The Deccan Chronicle.

"It is a make or break day for many political big guns... Round seven of the nine-phase polls has Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a number of BJP bigwigs, including prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, party patriarch LK Advani, chief Rajnath Singh, facing the voter test," the Hindustan Times reports.

Wednesday's voting will also decide the fate of regional leaders like Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir and Rashtriya Janata Dal's Sharad Yadav from Madhepura in the eastern state of Bihar.

Papers say the seventh phase will decide the role of these politicians in the formation of the next government.

War hero

Meanwhile, newspapers are highlighting a political controversy over the legacy of Indian war hero, Captain Vikram Batra.

Captain Batra died in the 1999 Kargil military conflict with Pakistan-backed forces which had infiltrated into the Kargil mountains in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Mr Modi on Tuesday used Captain Batra's name while appealing to the voters in the soldier's hometown of Palampur in the northern Himachal Pradesh state.

But Captain Batra's mother, Kamal Kanta, has criticised Mr Modi for using her son's name for political gains.

Mrs Batra is contesting from the state's Hamirpur constituency as a candidate of the the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party, The Times of India reports.

"We have never used Vikram's name or slogan in the election campaign as he belongs to the entire nation and wonder how Narendra Modi has used his name," the paper quotes Mrs Batra as saying.

Mr Modi denies using the martyr's name for political gains, reports say.

Elsewhere, The Times of India reports that about 17% of the nearly 1,300 candidates in the seventh-phase of voting have criminal charges pending against them.

"According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 222 candidates have criminal cases while 139 or 11% of these have serious criminal cases including murder and kidnapping against them," the paper says.

ADR is a Delhi-based civil society group that focuses on transparency in politics.

And finally, summer seems to have arrived in Delhi with temperature crossing the 40-degree Celsius mark on Tuesday, The Times of India reports.

The paper says that after "thundershowers that kept the city cool for most of April, the maximum temperature has finally started heading north".

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