India election: New Delhi goes to the polls -- live updates

By Helen Regan, Swati Gupta and Manveena Suri, CNN

Updated 8:15 a.m. ET, May 13, 2019
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3:01 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

Views from the street: Demonetization and jobs

From CNN's Swati Gupta

S.. Khan, 48, is a doctor who runs a small clinic in New Delhi. He says the "rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer" under Modi.

"The whole society is watching. The whole country is watching," he says. "People in the international community are watching what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has done," says Khan. "They killed the public with demonetization and the rich people keep going up. The rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer."

Demonetization was one of Modi's main economic policies.

Essentially, high-value currency was banned overnight as a means to combat corruption and lower tax evasion levels. But it came under fire for crippling small businesses and destabilizing what remains a cash-based economy.

"We did not elect a watchman. If we wanted a watchman, there are quite a few in my street…we wanted a genuine prime minister," Khan says.

Rul Kumar, a 27-year-old New Delhi resident says the government should do more create jobs.

"The government here has to give jobs. Why are there no jobs? The public cannot give that answer. This is why people choose a government," he says. "We have given our vote and using that vote, they built the government. But who is giving us the opportunity now?"

Kumar says he's struggled to find work in the public sector.

"I have been applying for government jobs but there is no opportunity. I have been looking for a job for 6-7 years now. The jobs are less because the management of the government is poor. I don’t know what they are doing. There are vacancies but they are not filling them," he says.  

2:56 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

New Delhi's Chief Minister development projects popular with many of the city's poor

From CNN's Helen Regan and Omar Khan

Kishwar Jahan says the AAP has done a lot for New Delhi's poor.
Kishwar Jahan says the AAP has done a lot for New Delhi's poor. Helen Regan

Sixty-year-old Kishwar Jahan in New Delhi's Ravidas slum says she's happy with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal because of the work he has done for the city's poor.

"He’s opened schools, colleges, slum clinics, we get whole body check up and its all free," she says of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief. "School has been the most important with a 10% reservation for poor people."

She says Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "very bad" for the country.

"People have suffered a lot in India," she says. "He hasn’t given anything. He believes in eradicated poor people, not poverty."

But she says the race for prime minister is between Modi and Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi. So she will vote for Congress in the Lok Sabha elections today and Kejriwal in the Delhi legislative assembly elections in 2020.

2:56 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

Why is the AAP such a force in New Delhi?

From CNN's Manveena Suri

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are contesting all seven seats in Delhi.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which translates to the Common Man Party, defied expectations in 2015 with a resounding victory in the Delhi state assembly elections, winning 67 out of 70 seats.

This came just months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) comprehensively defeated them in the 2014 general elections. The AAP contested more than 400 seats in 2014, but secured just four, all from the northern state of Punjab.

The party's symbol is a broom to represent sweeping up corruption.

Who is Arvind Kejriwal?

A former civil servant, Kejriwal launched AAP in October 2012 with a mandate to “to end corruption from politics and government.”

According to the party’s website, voters have become "tired of the status quo, nepotistic, dynastic, corrupt, criminal and communal nature of our politics." The AAP positions itself as a "breath of fresh air in this backdrop."

AAP's rise

AAP made an impressive debut in their first assembly elections in December 2013, winning 28 seats and reducing the incumbent Congress party’s share to just eight seats compared to the 43 it won in 2008.

The party went on to form a minority government with Congress, with Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister. But Kejriwal was in office for just 49 days before resigning due to a row over an anti-corruption bill.

As a result, Delhi was under President’s Rule (direct rule by the central government) before fresh polls were held in February 2015. The AAP made a victorious comeback and Arvind Kejriwal was again appointed chief minister, a position he has held since.

What do they want?

This time around, top of the party’s agenda is full statehood for Delhi, known officially as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

As Delhi is a union territory with its own legislature, the AAP government does not have full administrative powers. These are split with the BJP-led central government, which has control over the police force, law and order, and land.

Popular with the poor

The AAP is extremely popular with many lower income families in the capital. In its 2018-2019 budget, the AAP government allocated $2 billion, 26% of its total budget, for the education sector, with a focus on building new classrooms in government schools and initiatives like the Happiness Curriculum.

The government has also lowered the cost of electricity and water to Delhi residents. Residents who use less than 20 kiloliters (5283 gallons) of water per month pay nothing while power tariffs have also decreased.

2:37 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

Voter turnout at 10.99% as of 10:30 a.m.

India's Election Commission has put its estimated voter turnout from ballots cast before 10:30 a.m. local time at 10.99%.

See a full state-by-state rundown below.

2:26 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi casts his vote

Main opposition Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi cast his vote in New Delhi today as did his mother, the former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Read more about Gandhi here.

2:49 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

120 million 'missing' voters

From CNN's Helen Regan and Omar Khan

India's Election Commission has committed to a "no voter left behind" initiative for the parliamentary elections this year. Polling staff have reportedly gone house to house in villages explaining the process and to residents, many of whom may be illiterate.

A recent report by election watchdog Missing Voters suggested that some 120 million people -- many of them minorities such as Muslims or Dalits -- were left out of electoral lists.

Authors of the report said there was a "slow but steady process ... through which the minorities are being disenfranchised and politically excluded."

One of the authors Khalid Saifullah said missing voters could translate to real losses in the polls.

"The impact is huge as in many constituencies the winning margin is less than 10%," he said.

His organization Missing Voters launched an app with more than 100,000 volunteers to help people get enrolled on voter lists.

A spokesperson for India's Election Commission (ECI) told CNN that it "has given citizens ample notice through its awareness campaigns to ensure that voters have enough time to make sure their names are on the electoral rolls."

1:22 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

New Delhi's marginalized farmers feel left out of world's biggest election

From CNN's Helen Regan and Omar Khan

Omar Khan
Omar Khan

On the banks of the Yamuna River in New Delhi, sustenance farmer Mohammad Mujabir, 55, works hard tilling his scrabble patch of a field.

He feeds his wife and five kids with the produce they grow, and any profits go to the landlord to rent the field.

"There are no savings," he says. And now he fears he's been left out of any opportunity to voice his desperation in the general elections.

Though he has a registration and voter ID card, he said he's yet to receive his ballot card. Without the card, he will not be allowed to cast his vote with the rest of New Delhi.

Read more about Mujabir and the plight of New Delhi's farmers here

12:54 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

India is cutting people off from the internet in the middle of its election

From CNN's James Griffiths

India is in the middle of the world's largest election, but despite this grand exercise in political freedom, some Indians are being denied access to the internet for days at a time as they prepare to cast their ballots.
India is in the middle of the world's largest election, but despite this grand exercise in political freedom, some Indians are being denied access to the internet for days at a time as they prepare to cast their ballots. VISHAL BHATNAGAR/AFP/Getty Images

Since voting began last month, shutdowns of mobile internet have been reported in the Indian states of Rajasthan, West Bengal and Indian-administered Kashmir, according to the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC), adding to more than 30 recorded already in 2019. 

According to the SFLC, on April 18, authorities in the Srinagar and Udhampur districts of Indian-administered Kashmir suspended mobile internet access during polling "as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order." 

Law and order was also cited as a reason for cutting off mobile internet a couple of days later in Rajasthan's Sikar district. The majority of Indians access the internet via mobile devices.

This is in keeping with a massive uptick in internet shutdowns — both mobile and full access — in India in recent years. The number has risen from 79 in 2017 to more than 130 last year.

The trend raises major concerns about India's commitment to internet freedom, particularly during an election when people's access to information is even more important than usual.

Read more on that here.

12:54 a.m. ET, May 12, 2019

India's President casts his vote

India's President Ram Nath Kovind cast his vote today in New Delhi. The country's 14th president, Kovind was elected to the presidency in 2017 after serving as governor of the eastern state of Bihar.

Unlike the American president, and in line with other Westminster-style governments, the role of India's president lacks any real executive authority. All decisions taken by the president require the approval of the prime minister and the council of ministers.

The election of Kovind was widely viewed as part of a strategy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen support among India's 200 million-strong Dalit community.

Kovind is the second Dalit to become Indian president, after K. R. Narayanan, in office from 1997 to 2002.

Read more on that here.