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Sunday, 8 February 2015





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India election:

Delhi votes in first real test for Modi

7 Feb BBC

Polling stations have opened in Delhi for state elections billed as the first real test of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former policewoman Kiran Bedi as its pick for chief minister.But polls suggest she is likely to lose to Arvind Kejriwal, an anti-corruption activist who heads his own party.Mr Modi won convincingly in last summer's general election, and has ridden a wave of popularity ever since.

Over 13 million people are eligible to vote at 12,000 polling centres in the state assembly elections.Security is tight and more than 55,000 police and paramilitary have been deployed.

Official results for the 70-member state assembly are due on Tuesday.Both Mr Kejriwal and Ms Bedi are former civil servants - he worked in the revenue department while she was India's first woman police officer, Both won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award - Mr Kejriwal for fighting corruption and Ms Bedi for prison reform,Both campaigned with anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare during his 2011 protest.In recent months, the BJP won a string of state assembly elections.

But correspondents say a tough fight awaits them in Delhi, where several surveys have put Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of the others.

The Congress party, which ran the Indian capital for 15 years until 2013, is predicted to come a distant third.

Delhi has been without a government since Mr Kejriwal, the former chief minister, resigned last February, angered that his anti-corruption bill was blocked.

Since then the state has been governed directly by the federal authorities.Ms Bedi and Mr Kejriwal worked together during the anti-corruption campaign, led by social activist Anna Hazare, but the two have since developed an intense rivalry. During weeks of hectic campaigning in Delhi, both candidates promised to bring in good governance, end corruption and make Delhi safe for women.

In the previous Delhi election held in December 2013, the BJP won the most seats but fell short of a majority, leaving the AAP - which came second - to form a coalition with the Congress party.

Mr Kejriwal resigned on 14 February after 49 days in office, however, after opposition politicians blocked a bill that would have created an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil servants suspected of corruption.13.3 million voters; 12,083 polling stations,70 seats; 673 candidates, 63 of whom are women.


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