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Bollywood Stars Cast Their Votes in Indian Election

Bollywood Stars Cast Their Votes in Indian Election

India’s financial capital, Mumbai, has begun voting as part of the ongoing six-week national elections, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi garnering significant support from the city’s business and entertainment elite. The 73-year-old leader is expected to secure a third term, largely due to his strong advocacy for India’s majority Hindu faith. This support is reflected in the substantial campaign funds provided by large conglomerates and the backing from Bollywood stars who align with the BJP’s ideological stance.

Bollywood and Business Support

Modi’s popularity is buoyed by his championing of Hindu nationalism rather than economic performance, which continues to struggle with unemployment and income inequality. A key event bolstering his support was the inauguration of a grand temple to the deity Ram in Ayodhya, a site where a mosque was demolished by Hindu activists in 1992. This event was a significant fulfillment of a long-standing demand by Hindu activists and was celebrated nationwide.

Prominent figures such as Mukesh Ambani, who donated $300,000 to the temple’s trust, cricket star Sachin Tendulkar, and Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan attended the ceremony. Many Bollywood stars have vocally supported Modi’s administration, producing films that align with the BJP’s sectarian messaging, often criticized for portraying India’s Muslim minority negatively.

Political and Financial Backing

The BJP has been the primary beneficiary of electoral bonds, a controversial political donation system, receiving $730 million from leading companies and wealthy individuals over the past five years. This support is attributed to Modi’s policies that favor the business elite, including lower corporate taxes, reduced red tape, and decreased municipal regulatory corruption.

N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Sons, emphasized the importance of voting as he cast his ballot in Mumbai, encouraging others to do the same.

Election Logistics and Climate Challenges

India’s election is divided into seven phases over six weeks to manage the logistical challenges of conducting the world’s largest democratic exercise. The fifth phase of voting coincides with a severe heatwave affecting several states, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius. This extreme heat, attributed to climate change, has led to a lower voter turnout compared to the 2019 elections, as many expect a Modi victory and are deterred by the high temperatures.

The election involves over 968 million eligible voters, with the final polling round on June 1 and results anticipated three days later.