India votes in last phase of massive, 6-week elections

India votes in last phase of massive, 6-week elections
India votes in last phase of massive, 6-week elections

Hello and welcome to the details of India votes in last phase of massive, 6-week elections and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Voters stand in line to cast their votes at a polling station during the seventh and last phase of the general election, at a village in Firozpur district, Punjab, India, June 1, 2024. — Reuters pic

KOLKATA, India, June 1 — Indians voted in searing summer heat today in the final phase of the world’s biggest election, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a rare third term in a poll focussed on inequality and religion.

More than 100 million people are registered to vote for 57 seats across eight states and federal territories in the seventh phase of the election, including in Modi’s constituency in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi.

“Calling upon the voters to turnout in large numbers and vote,” Modi said as polls opened in the northern state of Punjab and the eastern states of Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. “Together, let’s make our democracy more vibrant and participative.”

His Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), battling an opposition alliance of two dozen parties led by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress, is widely expected to keep its majority in the election with more than 1 billion registered voters.

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But the BJP has run into a spirited campaign by the opposition “INDIA” alliance, sowing some doubt about how close the race might be.

Public exit polls, banned during the six weeks of voting, are expected to be released after voting ends at 6:30 p.m. (1300 GMT, although they have a patchy record and have sometimes been widely off the mark.

Election results are to be announced on Tuesday.

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Scorching summer temperatures with unusually severe heatwaves, have compounded voter fatigue, with at least 33 people killed by suspected heatstroke, including nearly two dozen election officials. Temperatures reached 48 degrees Celsius in many voting areas today.

Unemployment and inflation are the main concerns for voters in the majority-Hindu country of 1.4 billion people.

“We have been enduring a prolonged poll schedule. I pray that it comes to a peaceful end today,” said Sanant Basu, a resident of West Bengal’s capital Kolkata, as sporadic violence marred voting in at least two seats.

People queued early outside polling stations in parts of Punjab state, where farmers have been protesting for minimum price guarantees for their crops.

Sarabjeet Kaur, 51, said she was dismayed by all the mainstream parties. “No party is bothered about us until elections arrive every five years.”

Harpreet Singh, 32, from Punjab’s Firozpur said, “BJP will not be successful here. It’s bye-bye to Modi this time, Congress will be winning.”

Modi began his re-election campaign by focussing on his achievements over the last 10 years but soon switched to mostly targeting the Congress by accusing it of favouring India’s minority Muslims, which the party denies.

The opposition has largely campaigned on affirmative action and saving the constitution from what they call Modi’s dictatorial rule, an allegation the BJP denies. — Reuters

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