India to hold seven-phase general election from April 19, results on June 4

India will hold a seven-phase general election starting on April 19, with the results to be declared on June 4.

The Election Commission of India announced the schedule of the six-week marathon vote during a news conference in New Delhi on Saturday.

Nearly 970 million voters – more than the entire population of the United States, the European Union and Russia combined – are eligible to cast their ballot, according to the poll panel’s data, making the election the largest democratic exercise in the world.

“We will take democracy to every corner of the country,” Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said as he announced the voting dates. “It is our promise to deliver a national election in a manner that we … remain a beacon for democracy around the world.”

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a third straight term in the vote, has set a target of 370 seats for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and 400-plus for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) the BJP heads in the 543-member lower house of parliament.

In 2019, the BJP won 303 seats – the most ever for the Hindu nationalist party that was formed in 1980.

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

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 the 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 BJP 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.

The first phase of the parliamentary election will be held on April 19, second on April 26, third on May 7, the fourth phase on May 13, the fifth on May 20, the sixth on May 25 and the seventh phase on June 1.

In four states – Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim – the parliamentary and legislative assembly elections will be held simultaneously, with their results to be also declared on June 4.

Bypolls for 26 assembly constituencies across the country will be also be held during the six-week vote.

There will be more than a million polling stations in operation staffed by 15 million poll workers, according to the election commission.

<<Aljazeera>>