Polls open as India’s election gets underway

Polls open as India’s election gets underway

Polls open as India’s election gets underway

Written by Reuters

11 Apr, 2019 | 10:53 am

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Indians began voting today (April 11) in the first phase of a mammoth general election, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi gunning for a second term having campaigned strongly on his national security record following a flare-up in tensions with Pakistan.

Security for the polls was increased after seven people were killed in militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim majority state, and in eastern India, where Maoist insurgents were blamed for a bomb that killed a state legislator from Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kupwara in the restive Kashmir was relatively deserted with security personnel thoroughly frisking voters before letting them inside to vote.

Modi’s BJP has entered the election as the frontrunner, despite economic distress over mounting unemployment, and weak farm incomes in rural areas, where two-thirds of Indians live.

Voting in the first of seven rounds is being held in 91 parliament constituencies across 20 states and federally administered regions. There are 543 seats at stake. Almost 900 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are eligible to vote. The first phase of voting covers an electorate of 142 million. Spread over 39 days, the final phase of the election will be held on May 19, and the result will be announced on May 23.

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