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.
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.