India begins biggest phase of parliamentary elections

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Indian voters are casting their ballots in the fifth and biggest round of the country’s nine-phase parliamentary elections.

India is witnessing elections in the maximum number of seats in a single phase on Thursday with polling being conducted in 121 constituencies across 12 states, including key states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

According to reports, some 200 million people are eligible to vote in this phase.

Polling has so far been held in 111 constituencies in four phases.

The voting has been scheduled to take place in nine phases over five weeks due to logistical and safety reasons in the country of 1.2 billion people.

The elections began on April 7 and are scheduled to end on May 12. The results are expected to be announced on May 16.

Some 814 million Indians, 100 million more than the number at the last elections in 2009, are eligible to vote.

The main contest in the elections is between the Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi, and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by the nationalist leader, Narendra Modi.

Recent opinion polls suggest a win, though not an absolute majority in the 543-seat lower house of the national assembly, for the BJP.

Corruption scandals and harsh economic decisions have made the ruling Congress Party very unpopular recently, with people accusing it of becoming arrogant due to holding political power over the past years.

Modi has been critical of the government’s foreign policy, especially regarding Pakistan. He has pledged a tough stand against Islamabad if his party wins the elections.

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