India election 2019: Big turnout for the election, where Modi has an edge.
Indians voted enthusiastically on Thursday, with PM Narendra Modi seeking a second term after campaigning fervently on a plank of national security.
India election 2019 will be the largest in world history.
Election officials reported a heavy turnout across the 20 states taking part in the 1st phase of the election, which involves 900 million eligible voters and will take almost six weeks to complete.
People trekked, rode bicycles and drove tractors to polling stations in the world’s biggest democratic election, with 900 million eligible to vote during seven phases of balloting spread over 39 days, and vote-counting set for May 23.
Modi’s BJP alliance is expected to shrink the tally to a far smaller majority than in the 2014 election.
By 3 pm, more than half of voters had turned out in most states, the Election Commission said. Voter participation was the highest, at 70%, in the West Bengal, where the BJP is on a collision course with a firebrand regional politician.
As voting began, Modi said the mood was firmly in favor of his National Democratic Alliance (NDA), whose senior party is the BJP. NDA’s aim is Development, more development, and all-round development, he said on Twitter.
Congress, which promised more jobs and Love over hate in its own rallying cry on Twitter.
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, 2019.
At Ashoka University, a political science professor Gilles Verniers predicted Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi would struggle to catch the BJP.
An average of four opinion polls showed the BJP-alliance on course to win 273 of the 545 seats in the LokSabha, the lower house of parliament, a much-reduced majority from more than 330 seat majority it scored at the last election.
In the 2014 general election, the BJP alone won a landslide 282 seats, securing a clear single-party majority for the first time in decades and raising hopes of economic reform after a period of sluggish growth.
In Uttar Pradesh, which sends more lawmakers to parliament than any other, Ajesh Kumar, who runs a roadside restaurant, said he voted for the BJP in 2014, when Hindu-Muslims riots in the area killed at least 65 people and would do so again.
Almost 900 million of India’s people are eligible to vote. The first phase of voting covers an electorate of 142 million.