|Delhi voting tests Indian anti-graft party’s staying power
India's upstart anti-graft party faces a key test today as the capital New Delhi voted in the first major phase of the general elections.
The third phase of voting began at 7:00 am local time in 91 constituencies, representing nearly a fifth of the 543-seat lower house, across the capital and 13 other states, including Maoist insurgency-hit eastern India.
But the main spotlight was on the Delhi birthplace of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP).
“The enthusiasm, the hope has died. People have become disillusioned with them,'' Delhi-based analyst Amulya Ganguli told AFP.
The AAP has struggled to shake the “quitter'' tag used by critics following the dramatic resignation of party chief Arvind Kejriwal just 49 days after he came to office as Delhi's chief minister.
“They didn't stay on to govern and their drama-creating behavior put people off,'' Ganguli said.
The nine-stage elections which began Monday are expected to vault the Hindu nationalist opposition to power. Results are expected on May 16.
The 814-million electorate is forecast to inflict a punishing defeat on the Congress party after its decade-long rule and elect the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by conservative hardliner Narendra Modi.
The AAP is contesting its first general elections since it was spawned by a 2011 anti-graft movement and rode a wave of public anger over a string of corruption scandals.
Nearly 10 percent of politicians who contested Monday's first phase of elections have previous charges of attempted murder, rape and other crimes, according to advocacy group Association for Democratic Reforms.
Last month, the ADR said 37 percent of BJP candidates and 25 percent of the Congress hopefuls announced so far faced criminal cases.