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Polling Begins In 1St Phase Of India's Marathon General Elections

19.04.2024 04:42

Voters to cast ballots in 102 parliamentary constituencies in 21 states, with 166.3 million people eligible to vote.

Polling began Friday morning in the first phase of India's general elections, with millions of voters expected to exercise their fundamental right to choose their representatives in 102 parliamentary constituencies in 21 states.

Voting to elect 543 lawmakers to the lower house of India's Parliament, known as the Lok Sabha, is being held in seven phases from April 19 to June 1. The vote count will take place on June 4.

In the first phase of voting, for which campaigning ended on Wednesday, 166.3 million voters are eligible to vote, for which around 187,000 polling stations have been set up. There are 1,625 candidates in the fray, while 3.5 million first-time voters are registered to cast their votes, according to the election commission.

The first phase has the highest number of parliamentary constituencies among all phases, according to election authorities. Voting begins at 7 a.m. local time and ends at 6 p.m.

Among the states going to vote on Friday are the southern state of Tamil Nadu, with 39 seats, where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has done massive campaigning to woo voters who mostly vote for regional parties.

This general election is primarily a battle between the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, and the opposition Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) headed by the Indian National Congress.

Modi, seeking a record third consecutive term, has set a target of 370 seats for the BJP and over 400 for the NDA.

Before the start of voting, Modi wrote on X: "The 2024 Lok Sabha elections commence today! As 102 seats across 21 States and UTs (union territories) go to the polls, I urge all those voting in these seats to exercise their franchise in record numbers. I particularly call upon the young and first-time voters to vote in large numbers. After all, every vote counts and every voice matters!"

A day before the kicking off of the marathon exercise, the Election Commission of India said it reiterates its "uncompromising commitment to deliver a free, fair, peaceful, accessible, participative and inducement-free poll."

"The commission and its teams across states and union territories in the last two years have put in the necessary hard work and meticulous interventions to give India's electors the best possible experience," it said in a statement, while appealing to voters "to step out of their homes, go to the polling stations and vote with responsibility and pride."

Apart from the general election, on Friday, voting will also take place in 92 assembly constituencies in the state assembly elections in states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. ​​​​​​​ -

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