Indian media: Narendra Modi's 'caste politics'

Narendra Modi is leading the BJP's poll campaign Image copyright AFP
Image caption Narendra Modi is leading the BJP's poll campaign

Media in India say the main opposition BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is using his "caste background" to attract voters in the ongoing general election.

"If I am wrong, you have the right to question Modi, but you are now abusing my caste… You can insult Modi as much as you like, you can hang him, but do not insult the lower castes… We are poor and downtrodden people from lower castes, but stop commenting on our lower caste," Mr Modi said on Tuesday at an election rally.

Mr Modi has repeatedly said that he is from a caste and the ruling Congress party "has been targeting him over his background".

But papers see Mr Modi's "caste-spin" as an election strategy.

"Invoking his background seemed to be part of a careful strategy to rally the backward castes on the eve of polling in 64 seats, including 15 in Uttar Pradesh and 7 in Bihar," says The Indian Express.

The Congress says that the BJP has "distorted" Priyanka Gandhi's statement "to gain political benefits".

Priyanka, the daughter of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, had said that Congress workers would "reply to his [Mr Modi's] low-level politics".

The ruling party said Ms Gandhi was commenting on Mr Modi's style of politics and not on his background.

"Deliberately distorting Priyanka Gandhi's jibe about his low-level politics, Mr Modi deftly changed the whole debate into one of insulting the low castes," says an editorial in the Hindustan Times.

'Crucial' phase

Meanwhile, papers say that the last two phases of the polls are crucial for the BJP's chances of defeating the ruling Congress.

Voting is taking place on 64 constituencies spread across seven states on Wednesday in the second-last phase.

The last phase will be held on 12 May and votes will counted on 16 May.

"The BJP has to do well in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar to be in the reckoning as the single largest party in the new Lok Sabha [lower house of parliament]," says The Hindu.

A total of 22 seats are up for grabs in the two states on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, in a "landmark verdict", the Supreme Court struck down a law that required the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's top investigative agency, to seek government approval before questioning senior bureaucrats in corruption cases, the Hindustan Times reports.

"Every person accused of committing the same offence is to be dealt with in the same manner in accordance with law," the court said.

And finally, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country's central bank, has allowed children above the age of 10 to open and operate savings bank accounts independently, The Hindu reports.

Earlier, minors were allowed to open joint accounts with their parents

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