• Sunday, April 21, 2024


India to hold polls from April 19 in seven phases

The two-term strongman Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his regional allies will be pitted against a bickering alliance of two dozen opposition parties

India’s Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar speaks as Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and S. S. Sandhu look on during a press conference in New Delhi, India, March 16, 2024. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

By: Shajil Kumar

India will begin voting in seven phases starting April 19 to elect a new parliament, and the results will be announced on June 4.
Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said on Saturday the other phases will be on April 26, May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25, and June 1.

It will be the world’s largest election with 970 million people eligible to vote at over one million polling stations and 5.5 million electronic voting machines will be used.

The election pits two-term strongman Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his regional allies against a bickering alliance of two dozen opposition parties, with surveys suggesting a comfortable win for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).

A victory would make Modi, 73, only the second prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s independence hero and its first prime minister, to win a third straight term.

Modi and his party have been in campaign mode for months before the dates for the vote were announced.

The prime minister has been flying around the country almost every day, inaugurating new projects, making announcements, taking part in religious events and addressing public and private meetings.

A main talking point has also been his party’s agenda for Hindu reawakening, including the inauguration of a grand temple to Lord Ram on the site of a mosque that was destroye 30 years ago.

Modi has set a target of 370 seats for BJP and 400-plus for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) it heads in the 543-member lower house of parliament, up from the 303 the BJP won and more than the 350 the NDA won in 2019.

The 2019 performance was the best ever for the party which was formed in 1980.

Modi will be challenged by an alliance of two dozen opposition parties led by the main opposition Congress party called INDIA or the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance.

The alliance formed last year has, however, been struggling to stay united and share seats amicably to be able to put up a one-to-one fight against BJP.

Congress party, which has ruled India for 54 of its 76 years since independence from Britain, has sunk to record lows after Modi swept to power and is struggling to revive support.

The party is highlighting unemployment, rural distress, what it says is crony capitalism, the need for more affirmative action for the so-called backward castes and the need to end religious polarisation and hate in its pitch to defeat Modi.

Assembly elections

The commissioner said the assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim will be held on April 19, and in Andhra Pradesh on May 13.

Elections to Odisha assembly will be held in four phases on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

The assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir will be held after the parliament polls as organising both simultaneously is not viable from the security point of view, Rajiv Kumar added. (Agencies)

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