India election: Narendra Modi selfie lands front-runner in hot water

BJP candidate posed with party symbol when casting his vote – in breach of electoral rules

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The Independent Online

The presumed front-runner in India’s election today cast his vote, took a “selfie” after he did so and found himself accused of breaching election rules.

Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), cast his vote in the city of Gandhinagar in Gujarat, one of 89 constituencies involved in the seventh of nine days of polling.

Levelling further criticism at the ruling Congress party and its leadership, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, Mr Modi told reporters that the time was up for “mother and son government”.

“After analysing the election process and the voter’s mind until now, I can say that this time nothing can save the mother-son government... a strong government will come to power,” he said. “Balloting in such high numbers reflects that this election will give the country new strength.”

As he went to vote, Mr Modi took a photograph of himself with his mobile phone, showing his inked finger, which he then posted on social media.

But the image also included the BJP’s symbol, a lotus flower, and his rivals were quick to complain that Mr Modi had breached rules fixed by the Election Commission (EC) which prohibit party symbols within 100 metres of an election booth.

The Hindustan Times newspaper said Mr Modi’s rivals from the Congress and Aam Aadmi parties were filing a complaint against his action with the EC. Reports said the EC had said it would examine any complaints as and when it received them.

After casting his ballot, Mr Modi, who is serving his fourth term as chief minister of Gujarat,  apologised to people for not being able to devote more time to them

“This time I could hardly give eighteen hours in the last two days,” he said. “But I thank the voters for the way they have taken the election process forward even in my absence.”

A total of 139m people were registered to vote on Wednesday and polling was taking place in nine states, including Andhra Pradesh in the south of India, West Bengal in the east and Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in northern India. All 26 constituencies in Gujarat were also voting.