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India's opposition lacks manifesto four days from polling

India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), frontrunner to form the next government, faced criticism Thursday for failing to release its manifesto just days before polls open. Reports earlier this week claimed the Hindu nationalists' programme would be unveiled on Thursday, but a party source told AFP it was now highly unlikely to be before Saturday -- two days before the first voters cast their ballots.

Amma, Didi, Behenji: India's female kingmakers

The makeup of India's next government could lie in the hands of a trio of women who command a massive following in their regional heartlands, including a populist former movie star known as "Mother" to supporters. Known more for their charisma than policies, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati are likely to play pivotal roles in coalition negotiations, after India's marathon general election which begins Monday.

No first lady for India as bachelors battle for PM job

In marriage-obsessed India where people are expected to wed young and produce progeny soon after, two single men are battling it out on the election trail for the prime minister's job. On one side is fiery frontrunner Narendra Modi, 63, a white-bearded Hindu nationalist who likes to be seen as a modern-day "monk with a mission", according to biographer Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

US ambassador to India quits after rift

The US ambassador to India resigned on Monday in the wake of a bitter rift between the usually friendly countries following a diplomat's arrest in New York. The announcement by veteran envoy Nancy Powell comes days before India heads into elections in which Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi -- formerly a US pariah -- is forecast to become prime minister. Powell, in a brief statement, did not elaborate on her reasons but said that her decision was "planned for some time" and that she will retire by the end of May in the eastern US state of Delaware.

India's Modi: Economic inspiration or illusion?

To supporters in his thriving west coast fiefdom, Narendra Modi is the inspiration behind an economic success story that India has a chance to emulate if as expected he becomes prime minister. But ahead of elections beginning on April 7, sceptics accuse Modi of claiming credit for an "illusion" in Gujarat that has mainly benefited big business and will be hard to replicate on a national scale.

India Congress candidate arrested over 'death threat'

Police arrested a politician from India's ruling Congress party on Saturday over a threat to chop fiery Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi "into little pieces" if he stirred religious violence in the nation's most populous state. A video handed to police allegedly shows Imran Masood, fielded by Congress as a candidate in national elections in Uttar Pradesh state, making the threat against the hardline leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a rally.

India's free speech champions wary of BJP return

Dwijendra Narayan Jha, a mild-mannered historian, calmly recounts the death threats he received the last time India's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was in government. "The voice on the other end said: 'We will kill you if you publish this book'," the 74-year-old said of one of the anonymous calls designed to halt the publication of "Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions".

Vedanta donations to Indian parties ruled illegal by Delhi court

By Shyamantha Asokan and Sruthi Gottipati NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's two main political parties both broke laws barring foreign donations by accepting cash from local companies owned by London-listed mining group Vedanta Resources Plc between 2004 and 2012, the Delhi High Court said on Friday.

The great Indian election: it's about jobs

By Frank Jack Daniel and Rajesh Kumar Singh PATNA, India (Reuters) - Old enough to vote for the first time, student Sheeba Shamim, the daughter of a middle class family, and young construction workers sweating on a nearby building site are impatient for a government in India that delivers jobs and hope for the future. They are among more than 100 million registered new voters, who will cast their ballots when the world's biggest democracy holds a general election that will run from April 7 to May 12.

India's rural heartland turns to Modi

Jitendra Saini stares at the gleaming solar panels on his farm in Rajasthan, paid in large part by the ruling Congress party, as he considers who will get his vote in India's election. "We will be voting for Modi... because Modi knows what real development is," said Saini, 30, as he sat on the porch of his new two-storey home with his family. Saini's income has increased five-fold in the last three years thanks to the heavily subsidised panels which power a drip irrigation system that waters rows of lush vegetables in giant hothouses.
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