Nearly a billion people to vote as India kicks off colossal elections

India on Friday launched the largest elections in human history, with ruling Hindu nationalists expected to win a third term in power with an even larger majority than in 2019.

India's opposition has been shoring up its tattered frontlines of late, with some leaders including two chief ministers in prison and dozens of MPs suspended from parliament ahead of the seven-phase polls starting this Friday in 21 of India's 28 states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s untainted popularity has secured his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a head start in polls held ahead of the elections, which will involve some 970 million voters – including 26 million young adults who will be casting their ballots for the first time.

The opposition Indian National Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi alleges a crackdown has been launched to ensure the elections are a one-sided affair for the BJP during the 44-days of polls, to be overseen by 15 million officials.

“All our bank accounts are frozen, we can do no campaign work, we cannot support our workers and this is being done two months before the election,” Gandhi said, joining a chorus of protest from several opposition groups facing police suppression.

In 2019, the BJP and its allies won 303 of the total 543 seats in parliament’s lower house and Modi hopes for a 400-plus tally after the 44-day event with final results due to be announced by 4 June.

High security

“Broken promises will be in focus.”

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