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India election 2019: Voting to begin in world's largest election

April 11, 2019 5:14 am

Indians will head to the polls on Thursday to vote in the first phase of a general election that is being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tens of millions of Indians across 20 states and union territories will cast their votes in 91 constituencies.

The seven-phase vote to elect a new lower house of parliament will continue until 19 May. Counting day is 23 May.

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With 900 million eligible voters, this is the largest election ever seen.

Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a historic landslide in the last elections in 2014.

The Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament has 543 elected seats and any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a government.

The BJP has been campaigning to retain a commanding majority, but faces challenges from strong regional parties and a resurgent Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi.

Mr Gandhi’s father, grandmother and great-grandfather are all former Indian prime ministers. His sister, Priyanka Gandhi, formally joined politics in January.

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