BITTERLY FOUGHT INDIA ELECTION CAMPAIGN ENTERS FINAL DAY

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NEW DELHI: Campaigning in India’s bitterly fought general election was set to end Saturday ahead of next week’s final voting with the Hindu nationalist opposition already scenting victory. “We’ll get a clear majority,” Amit Shah, a close aide to charismatic but divisive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi, tipped to be India’s next prime minister, said late Friday. Shah said the electorate had “come out to support the BJP irrespective of caste, religion [and]age group”, seeking to dispel notions the party’s muscular Hindu nationalism was a voter stumbling block. Rahul Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, was due to address voters Saturday in the holy Hindu city of Varanasi, the constituency contested by Modi and one of the areas in electorally pivotal Uttar Pradesh state voting in the final phase. While the broader national battle is between Congress and the BJP, in Varanasi it has been portrayed as a “David-and-Goliath” clash between upstart anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal and Modi.
AFP

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