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The Latest | India counts votes from a mega-election seen as a referendum on Modi
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The Latest | India counts votes from a mega-election seen as a referendum on Modi

  • PublishedJune 4, 2024



NEW DELHI – India on Tuesday started counting votes from its staggered, six-week election that was seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decade in power and was expected to give him a third term in office.

Exit polls by major television channels have projected a comfortable win for the Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies over a broad opposition alliance led by the Congress party and its main campaign leader, Rahul Gandhi.

Nearly 970 million people — more than 10% of the world’s population — were eligible to vote and turnout averaged 66%, according to official data. The tallying at counting centers in 543 constituencies could stretch well into the evening before final results are announced, though substantial leads are likely to emerge earlier.

Currently:

What to know as votes are being counted.

— The world’s largest election, in photos.

— Voting ended Saturday in the election that’s a referendum on Modi’s decade in power.

— A scorching heat wave killed 14 in India before the final phase of voting.

Modi touts India’s roaring economy, but many feel left behind.

Here’s the latest:

WORKERS TAKE HEAT PRECAUTIONS AS VOTES ARE COUNTED IN TEMPERATURES EXPECTED TOO REACH 106F

Temperatures in the Indian capital were down Tuesday from highs in the past week of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), but election officials and political parties were nonetheless taking precautions as votes were being counted.

Workers carried cases of water into one air-conditioned counting station in New Delhi early in the morning in preparation, while tents outside for security personnel and others were outfitted with industrial evaporative coolers.

Temperatures in the morning hovered around 37 C (99 F) in New Delhi and were expected to rise to 41 C (106 F) by the end of the day.

At the headquarters of the opposition Congress party, a tent was set up outside, equipped with evaporative coolers, for waiting media.

WOMEN ARE A KEY VOTING BLOC IN INDIA’S 2024 ELECTION

Indian women are a key voting bloc with more of them voting in recent elections than ever before. Most poll experts expect women voters to play a decisive role in determining the 2024 election results.

Political parties have been wooing them with monthly cash handouts, subsidized cooking gas cylinders and low-interest loans. Many such programs have particularly helped Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party widen its support among them, especially in rural areas. The opposition alliance also tried to gain women’s votes by unveiling programs that promised financial aid of $1,200 per year to poor women, and promised to reserve 50% of government jobs for women if voted into power.

Women make up nearly 49% of India’s total electorate. Turnout has grown in each recent major election — of women who were eligible to vote, 53% voted in 2004; 56% in 2009; 65.5% in 2014; and 67% in 2019. Data for 2024 was not yet available but was estimated to resemble 2019’s female voter turnout.

AS VOTES ARE TALLIED, INDIAN MARKETS OPEN LOWER AFTER SURGING THE DAY BEFORE

Indian markets opened lower Tuesday after closing the night before at all-time highs as exit polling projected a comfortable win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Modi’s business-friendly policies have won him widespread support among India’s corporations and industry. After a decade in power, Modi was widely expected to win a third five-year term.

In early morning trading India’s benchmark stock indices — the NIFTY 50 and the BSE Sensex — were both down by more than 3% as India’s marathon election entered its final phase with the counting of some 642 million ballots.

The Indian market’s opening dip followed a broader trend in Asian markets, which retreated after a report showed U.S. manufacturing contracted in May in the latest sign the economy is slowing.

COUNTING STARTS WITH POSTAL BALLOTS THEN MOVES TO ELECTRONIC ONES

The counting of some 642 million votes cast in India’s election is being done at various locations around the country by government employees. Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said they were starting with postal ballots and then move on to combining the votes from India’s electronic voting machines.

The process is expected to be completed by the end of the day Tuesday.

India has close to 970 million eligible voters, and votes were cast at more than a million polling stations staggered over the last six weeks.

That brought the final phase into India’s hottest season, with temperatures higher than 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country, and Kumar said the election officials learned a valuable lesson.

“We should have completed the election at least one month before,” he said ahead of the start of the counting. “We shouldn’t have let it continue into so much heat.”

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Follow AP election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/global-elections

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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