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India’s ruling BJP invites foreign political parties to observe polls

Among those invited are Christian Democrats and Social Democrats from Germany, Conservative and Labor parties of the UK
People listen to a speech during a rally attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai on March 4.

People listen to a speech during a rally attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai on March 4. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 10, 2024 11:38 AM GMT
Updated: April 10, 2024 12:40 PM GMT

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-Hindu party has invited some 25 political parties from across the globe to send their representatives to “observe” the upcoming general election in the world’s largest democracy.

The invited parties include the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats from Germany and the Conservative and Labour parties of the UK. No party from Pakistan and China has been invited, apparently due to India’s strained relationships with them.

No invite has also been given to the ruling Democrats and the Opposition Republicans in the United States. “For one, they are busy with their own presidential elections. Also, the US parties are not structured like parties in India or some parts of Europe,” reportedThe Indian Express newspaper, quoting a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader.

The visitors are expected to be in India in May.  About a dozen political parties have confirmed sending their representatives so far.

Political parties of different ideologies from Sri Lanka and Nepal, including Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, have been invited. Still, only the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League has been invited from Bangladesh.

“The Opposition BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] has not been invited as it has been linked with a recent ‘India Out’ campaign on social media for boycotting Indian goods,” The Indian Express reported on April 10.

The representatives of political parties will form delegations and will likely tour various parts of the country during the third or fourth phase of the elections scheduled in May.

The general election will be held in seven phases starting on April 19, and the results will be declared on June 4.

The Election Commission of India’s data reveals that nearly 970 million voters – more than the entire population of the United States, the European Union and Russia combined – are eligible to cast their ballot. This makes the Indian election the largest democratic exercise in the world.

The foreign observers will get to attend and witness election campaigns in various constituencies, including big rallies to be addressed by PM Modi, Federal Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP president J P Nadda, a BJP leader said.

The pro-Hindu party’s move to invite overseas political parties is part of its 'Know BJP' initiative aimed at overseas outreach. He added that over 60 heads of mission from various countries have met the BJP president during the last several months as part of this initiative.

Modi is seeking a third consecutive term and has set a target of 370 seats for his party and 400-plus for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) the BJP heads in the 543-member lower house of parliament.

A victory would make the 73-year-old leader only the second since Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, to win a third straight term.

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