India to hold 7-phase poll from April 19

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Al Jazeera :
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.

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“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.