US lauds fairness and integrity of Indian polls

Washington: Lauding the people of India and the fairness and integrity of the elections in the world’s largest democracy, the US has said it will work with whoever is the victor in the polls.
With 900 million eligible voters, the election for the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament was the largest vote the world has seen.
More than 8,000 candidates from various political parties contested for 543 seats. “I would say from the US perspective, we are very confident in the fairness and the integrity of the Indian elections, and we will obviously work with whoever is the victor and whatever the outcome is there,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters here on Wednesday.
Unlike other countries, the US does not send its election observers to India because of the strong independent credentials of the Election Commission of India.
“We have a very strong relationship and a lot of cooperation with the Indian government on a full range of issues, and the Secretary (of State, Mike Pompeo) has said numerous times that we have a true strategic partner in India,” Ortagus said in response to a question.
The diplomat praised India and its people for carrying out such a massive exercise peacefully, describing it as “fascinating”.
The Washington Post on Wednesday said the Indian election was the largest democratic exercise in the world. “With about 900 million eligible voters, the size of the electorate had swelled by more than 80 million compared to 2014,” it had said.
Richard M Rossow, Wadhwani Chair in US India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank, said the next Indian government will have a difficult time managing ties with the United States.
“A dual-track approach is quite clear: Continued progress in deepening our security relationship while simultaneously engaging in a wider trade fight,” Rossow said.
“Too often this trade fight is attributed mainly to the United States. This is unfair, as the Modi government took significant steps to slow imports in recent years, such as increasing customs duties and initiating new local content mandates for government procurement,” Rossow told PTI in response to a question.
According to The Washington Post, the result of this election will be pivotal to the future of India, soon to become the world’s most populous nation.
“India is attempting to catch up in economic terms with China, its neighbour to the east, a pursuit that requires massive investment in infrastructure and significant policy change. At the same time, the country is also “deciding what kind of democracy it wants to be, having embraced a Hindu chauvinist leader by a landslide in the last national polls in 2014,” the daily said. (PTI)

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