India Holds Mid-Term Elections in 2 Northern States

Posted January 30th, 2012 at 5:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Millions of Indians went to the polls Monday in northern Punjab and Uttarakhand states, where the country's ruling Congress party hopes to wrest back power following a series of corruption scandals and sluggish economy.

The elections in two northern states are part of five mid-term state vote tests for the ruling party led by Italian-born Sonia Gandhi.

In Punjab, which borders Pakistan, the Congress party is optimistic it will return to power because of voter dissatisfaction over a slowing economy, power shortages, graft and high unemployment.

In Uttarakhand, a mountainous state bordering China and Nepal, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is fighting to win a second term.

After Punjab and Uttarakhand, all eyes will be on the country's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls from next week.

A high turnout would be a boost for Rahul Gandhi, heir-apparent of the Gandhi political dynasty, which has dominated India's post-independence politics. Rahul Gandhi has campaigned extensively in Uttar Pradesh.

Deeply- rooted corruption is widely seen as India's most pressing problem. Flagrant scams in real estate and telecommunications are blamed for robbing billions of dollars from the Indian treasury, and many ordinary Indians can recount situations in which they felt pressured to pay bribes.