Indians begin voting in general election, results expected in June

(19 Apr 2024)

Chennai, Tamil Nadu – 19 April 2024
1. Various of voters entering polling station and voting as polls open
India began its general election on Friday, with over 968 million people eligible to vote in the seven-phase polls pitting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the main opposition Indian National Congress.

Spanning over six weeks, the general election in the world’s largest democracy will continue to June 1, with vote counting to take place on June 4. The first phase of voting on Friday is being held in 102 of the 543 total constituencies.

Indian media opinion polls have shown the BJP ahead of Congress, predicting a victory that will secure a third five-year term since 2014 for 73-year-old Modi.

The Hindu nationalist BJP has pledged to empower youth, women, farmers and the underprivileged, calling them "four strong pillars of developed India." The party is also pointing to high economic growth under Modi’s rule over the past decade, with the country climbing to fifth from 10th in terms of gross domestic product.

As Modi released the BJP’s manifesto on Sunday he referred to a high-speed railway project using Japanese bullet train technology that will start commercial operation between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in western India by 2026. He said he would extend the railway service to northern, south and eastern India if he returns to office.

Congress, which is leading a coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties, meanwhile, has promised to implement measures to help people in need irrespective of India’s caste system and to guarantee prices for farm products.

The center-left Congress party had ruled India for over 50 years but was defeated in the previous two elections under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the son of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

In January, Modi’s government inaugurated a temple in the northern town of Ayodhya to woo Hindu voters. The Ram Mandir temple was built on the site of the 16th-century Babri Mosque, which was destroyed by a Hindu mob in 1992.

The consecration of the partially constructed temple angered Muslims, who have also decried as discriminatory a citizenship law that only allows members of non-Muslim minorities facing persecution in neighboring countries to acquire Indian nationality.

Modi’s government has also been criticized for its crackdown on political dissent and freedom of the media as well as rising unemployment.


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