Amy Kazmin

Amy Kazmin is the FT's New Delhi-based South Asia correspondent. She was previously the FT’s Bangkok correspondent, responsible for covering Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia and Laos. She has also written for the Los Angeles Times, Business Week, The Nation and Asian Affairs.

India is still awaiting its official election results on Friday. But with multiple exit polls all pointing to a definitive victory for Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the blame game – or rather non-blame game – in the incumbent Congress party has already begun.

The Congress’s campaign was led by Rahul Gandhi (pictured), the scion of the illustrious Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has been at the helm of the party ever since India’s independence from British colonial rule. Continue reading »

And the winner is….Narendra Modi, and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

That, at least, is the unanimous result of six separate exit polls released on Monday night, after voting in the India’s marathon, nine-phase Parliamentary election voting process finally concluded. Continue reading »

India ElectionsIndians are braced for May 16, when votes in the country’s protracted parliamentary elections are finally due to be counted and the winners, and losers, of the world’s largest democratic exercise will finally be known. But in at least one aspect of the competition – the battle to dominate India’s prime time television news bulletins – the results are out.

It will come at little surprise that the winner of this particular horse-race is Narendra Modi, the three-term chief minister of Gujarat state and the man seen as most likely to emerge as India’s next prime minister once the election is over. Continue reading »

Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful, has hardly put a foot wrong in the current Parliamentary election campaign – at least tactically. This week, however, has seen Mr Modi make a rare, embarrassing mis-step as he invoked the name of a famous Indian war hero while trying to rally voters against the soldier’s mother.

The blunder came while Modi was in Palampur, in the mountain state of Himachal Pradesh, where the local BJP Parliament member, Anurag Thakur, faces a challenge from the upstart Aam Aadmi Party whose candidate is Kamal Kant Batra, the 69-year-old mother of Captain Vikram Batra, a martyred soldier from the district. Continue reading »

India ElectionsPriyanka Gandhi, daughter and grand-daughter of slain former Indian prime ministers, has in theory opted for only a limited role in the current elections: campaigning for mother Sonia, president of the ruling Congress party, and brother Rahul, the party vice-president, in constituencies, while they focus on the national battle against Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

In reality, Gandhi, whose natural charisma is in sharp contrast with her brother’s apparent reticence, has been stealing the media limelight with her frontal attacks on Modi, highlighting her willingness for a fight. Continue reading »

Campaigning to win the job as India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, the three-term chief minister of Gujarat state, has kept silent about the right-wing social agenda that critics say is at the core of his belief system, while instead keeping a laser-like focus on issues economic growth, and effective government.

Indeed, the entire Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election campaign essentially rests on the idea of Modi as a forceful, decisive leader, who can break through the political gridlock, and get a sclerotic bureaucracy back into action, to unleash India’s economic potential. Continue reading »

Narendra Modi, widely expected to emerge as prime minister from India’s upcoming parliamentary elections, is known for his reluctance to engage directly with the media, given the questions and controversies surrounding his early personal life and his tenure as Gujarat’s chief minister.

That’s why a new book, Narendra Modi, A Political Biography, by a little-known British writer, Andy Marino, is attracting plenty of attention – and questions about how an author with no known prior connection to India won an entrée to such a normally inaccessible figure. Continue reading »

In India’s current hard-fought Parliamentary elections, every vote counts. So along with the usual process of aggressive campaigning, some parties appear to be resorting to a little old-fashioned political skulduggery to sabotage the prospects of their rivals.

At least, that is that what the upstart Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, Party (AAP) believes is happening to it, especially in its stronghold New Delhi, where an unexpected wave of support for AAP prevented the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from winning enough seats to form the local government in recent state assembly polls. Continue reading »

Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, has turned Indian electoral logic on its head. Instead of selecting a safe constituency from which to vault into a parliamentary seat, he threw down the gauntlet on Tuesday to front-running prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, challenging him in a Hindu heartland.

“I have no fascination to become an MP. Otherwise, I also could have chosen a safe seat, like other politicians,” Kejriwal said. “I am ready to fight Modi in Varanasi. I invite him for an open debate in Varanasi.” Continue reading »

India may be a young country – with half the population under the age of 25 – but it has typically been ruled by a lot of old men. Indian politicians, in fact, have been notorious for their reluctance to retire.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is 81-years-old, and many observers feel it would have been better for his reputation if he had retired several years ago. In 2009, the then 79-year-old George Fernandes, a revered socialist leader who was suffering from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, insisted on running for Parliament as an independent, even after his party denied him a ticket, citing his failing health. Continue reading »

Arvind Kejriwal, leader of India’s upstart Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, Party, has had a turbulent relationship with the news media.

Once the darling of the Delhi-based national media, the former tax inspector turned social activists has been subjected to more critical coverage since he took on the job as the capital city’s chief minister in December – then quit 49 days later.

In recent days, he has lashed out at the press, accusing journalists of being ‘paid media’ in support of Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial hopeful of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Indian media organisations have responded by threatening to black out all coverage of Kejriwal. Continue reading »

India’s Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial hopeful for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), announced at the weekend that he would run for Parliament from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, a pilgrimage town on the banks of the Ganges River, where devout Hindus have traditionally gone to cremate their dead.

Now, the question is whether the sacred town is set to have what Siddharth Vardarajan, a veteran political journalist, describes as what “sports desk subeditors in India love to call ‘a keen contest on the cards.’”

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Some of India’s most impassioned electoral battles are being fought not between political parties but within them.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), widely expected to emerge as the largest party, has been squabbling within itself over the question of a constituency for its prime ministerial hopeful, Narendra Modi, currently the chief minister of Gujarat state. Continue reading »

It’s easy to criticise India’s democracy for its many shortcomings. But travelling in Madhya Pradesh to gauge the political mood, I was given a clear demonstration of at least one way in which Indian democracy is truly flourishing.

We had arrived at the Swami Vivekananda University, one of the multitudes of private universities that have sprouted up across India to cater to the many students unable to find a place in the government’s over-stretched higher education system. Continue reading »

Rare is the Indian who complains that politics is boring: at least in Madhya Pradesh – the big, landlocked state at the heart of India – there is undisguised excitement about the general election that was announced on Wednesday.

The majority of those we interviewed on the streets after the Election Commission’s announcement said the election (to be held on nine separate voting days between April 7 and May 12) would bring a much-needed change of government in New Delhi. Continue reading »