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Here’s what you need to know about India’s upcoming elections in the world’s largest democracy

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces an alliance of opposition parties in India’s upcoming general election.
  • Modi has been prime minister for 10 years and has won the support of India’s majority Hindu population.
  • The general election begins on April 19 and the results will be announced on June 4.

NEW DELHI (AP) — The world’s largest democratic election may also be one of the most important.

India’s population exceeds 1.4 billion, with nearly 970 million voters, and the general election is in trouble Prime Minister ModiAn avowed Hindu nationalist against a broad opposition coalition struggling to catch up.

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Modi, 73, first came to power in 2014 on promises to develop the economy and portray himself as an outsider fighting corruption. He subsequently melded religion and politics, winning broad support from the country’s majority Hindu population.

FILE – Indian women queue to vote in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh state, central India, on April 17, 2014. With a population of more than 1.4 billion and a electorate of nearly 970 million, India’s 2024 election will pit Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an avowed Hindu nationalist, against a broad coalition of opposition parties struggling to catch up. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

India under Modi is a rising global power, but his rule has also been characterized by rising unemployment, Hindu nationalist attacks on minorities, especially Muslims, and shrinking space for dissent and free media .

How are elections conducted?

The six-week general election will begin on April 19, and the results will be announced on June 4. Voters, representing more than 10% of the world’s population, will elect 543 members of the House of Commons for five-year terms.

Voting will be held in seven phases, with voting taking place at more than one million polling stations. Each phase will last a day, with voting taking place in multiple constituencies across multiple states on that day. Staggered voting allows the government to deploy tens of thousands of troops to prevent violence and transport election officials and voting machines.

India operates a first-past-the-post multi-party electoral system in which the candidate with the most votes wins. To gain a majority, a party or coalition must break through 272 seats.

Although voters are USA India uses electronic voting machines compared to paper ballots used elsewhere.

Who is running?

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and his main challengers, Rahul Gandhi The Indian National Congress represents the two largest factions in parliament. Several other important regional parties are part of the opposition group.

Opposition parties, which had previously been divided, are now united under a front called “India” or “Indian Alliance for Inclusive Development of National Development” in a bid to prevent Modi from winning a third consecutive election.

The alliance has fielded primary candidates in most constituencies but has yet to decide on a prime minister due to ideological differences and personality clashes.

Most surveys suggest Modi is likely to win easily, especially after he opened a Hindu temple in northern Ayodhya city in January, making good on his party’s longstanding Hindu nationalist promise.

Another victory would cement Modi’s status as one of the country’s most popular and important leaders. This follows the BJP’s landslide victory in 2019, when it swept 303 parliamentary seats to gain an absolute majority, while the Congress won only 52 seats.

What are the big questions?

For decades, India has stubbornly clung to its democratic beliefs, thanks largely to free elections, an independent judiciary, a thriving media, a strong opposition, and peaceful transitions of power. Some of those credentials have been slowly eroded under Modi’s decade of rule. The polls are seen as a test of the country’s democratic values.

Many regulators now classify India as a “hybrid regime,” neither a full democracy nor a full dictatorship.

This poll will also test Modi’s limits. Modi is a populist leader whose rise has led to an increase in attacks against religious minorities, mainly Muslims. Critics accuse him of endangering the country’s secular roots by using a Hindu-first platform.

Under Modi, the media, once seen as vibrant and largely independent, has become more compliant and critical voices have been silenced. The courts have largely bowed to Modi’s wishes and ruled in his favor in key cases. Centralization of executive power has put pressure on India’s federal system. And senior opposition leaders in federal agencies are embroiled in corruption cases, which they deny.

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Another key issue is India’s massive economy, one of the fastest growing in the world. It has helped India emerge as a global power and act as a counterweight to China. But even as India’s economic growth surges in some quarters, Modi’s government still struggles to generate enough growth. Provide adequate employment opportunities for young Indians and instead rely on welfare programs such as free food and housing to attract voters.

The United Nations’ latest Asia-Pacific Human Development Report ranks India as one of the countries with the highest levels of income and wealth inequality.

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