2019 LS polls: Ready to work with victor, says US

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’.

“Someone pointed this out to me today that India’s election is the largest exercise in democracy in human history,” she said. “I think with everything going on in the world, that’s a thing that we can pause and think about and certainly commend the Indian people,” Ortagus said.

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. In that election, 550 million people ultimately cast votes,” 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.