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Thursday June 20, 2024

Modi casts his vote as giant election reaches half-way mark

After voting's first phase, Modi's campaign focused more on firing up BJP's Hindu base by attacking rivals as pro-Muslim

By Reuters
May 08, 2024
Indias Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his ink-marked finger after casting his vote, outside a polling station during the third phase of the general election, in Ahmedabad, India, on May 7, 2024. — Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his ink-marked finger after casting his vote, outside a polling station during the third phase of the general election, in Ahmedabad, India, on May 7, 2024. — Reuters

AHMEDABAD/GUWAHATI, India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi voted early on Tuesday as India held the third phase of a massive general election, when seats in his home state Gujarat and 10 other regions will be decided.

The world’s most populous nation began voting on April 19 in a seven-phase election in which nearly one billion people are eligible to vote, with ballots set to be counted on June 4.

Voter turnout, however, has been a concern as the first two phases registered marginally lower numbers compared to 2019 polls and initial figures from the Election Commission showed a fall on Tuesday as well at 61.45 percent, compared to around 66 percent in the same phase five years back.

Modi is seeking a rare, third straight term in a vote which pits his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against an alliance of more than two dozen opposition parties. Surveys suggest he will win a comfortable majority.

Modi cast his ballot in the Gandhinagar constituency where his number two, Home Minister Amit Shah, is the BJP candidate.

He urged citizens to actively participate in the “festival of democracy”, while taking care of their health as summer temperatures continued to rise in many parts of the country.

Clad in saffron and white, he was surrounded by hundreds of supporters and party members, signing autographs and talking to children on the way to the polling station.

Modi’s campaign began by showcasing his economic record, welfare measures, national pride and personal popularity.

The BJP relies heavily on his popularity, with his image adorning everything from sacks of rice handed out to the poor to large posters in cities and towns.