11 April 2019 - 03:10 AM
General Election: India's First Phase of Voting Gets Underway
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The first of seven phases of voting in India's over a month-long general election was underway Thursday, in what is characterized as the world’s biggest poll, to choose the country's next prime minister.

Overall 900 million people are eligible to exercise their franchise over a period of some 39 days.

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Long queues were observed outside the stations. Women and the elderly turned out in large numbers to cast ballots across Lok Sabha constituencies for this stage of the critical general election, India's Press Information Bureau reported. The social media presence and interactivity of this integral voting process is furthered by #FestivalOfDemocracy, which is representative of the world's largest democracy.  

Voting began at 07:00 a.m. local time with approximately 142 million people eligible to vote.

One person reportedly died and four others were critically injured in Andhra Pradesh, BBC said. Other minor clashes, as well as technical problems with electronic voting machines across several polling stations, were reported. 

Overall 900 million people are eligible to exercise their franchise over a period of some 39 days to select a leader to helm the southeast Asian nation for the next five years, the BBC has stated. India's parliament comprises 543 elected seats and all parties or coalitions need a minimum of 272 members of parliament to form a government.

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (of coalition National Democratic Alliance) leader and incumbent Narendra Modi faces off with main rival 48-year-old Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, who could become the fourth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to hold the office -  following the steps of his father, grandmother and great-grandfather.

Modi is seeking a second consecutive term in office.

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