In India the people of the northern states have been going to the polls over the past few days to elect representatives to their State Assemblies.
In India the people of the northern states have been going to the polls over the past few days to elect representatives to their State Assemblies. On the whole polling has been uneventful and the turn-out low -- reflecting general apathy towards the elections, which are taking place during a period of intense summer heat.
Rising prices, electricity shortages and general dismay that nothing much has changed may influence large numbers of people to vote against the Janata Party or stay at home -- though many ordinary people are believed to feel that any judgement on the government's performance is still premature. The Congress Party is still unpopular and is fighting the elections without the advantage of a ruling power structure and organisation. The main challenges to the Janata are expected to come from rebels from both parties and in West Bengal from Marxist Communists.
SYNOPSIS: In the state of Uttar Pradesh polling booths have been set in public squares and buildings -- only two and a half months since the last election campaign -- when the Janata Party won a sweeping victory over Mrs. Indira Gandhi's Congress Party in parliamentary elections. Local observers say that there is little chance of a Congress come-back in the north.
Revulsion against Mrs. Gandhi's state of emergency and hatred of a mass sterilisation campaign contributed towards the Congress Party's downfall. Since then a general relaxation of tension has come about and the only doubt hanging over the Janata Party's performance in the State Assembly elections appears to be how much support it has lost through internal squabbling. Although polling was quiet in Uttar Pradesh on Friday (10 June) there have been reports of violence from the states of Bihar and Kashmir.
Apart from control of the State Assemblies the elections are important because the states from a sizeable part of the electoral college which will choose a new Indian President next August. Polling will continue until the first week in July.