World’s Largest Election Starts In India, Prime Minister Seeks a Third Term

( – Elections got underway in the world’s largest democracy on April 19 and will run for six weeks before votes are counted. India’s 970 million voters – around 10% of the world’s total – are going to the polls to elect 543 Members of Parliament and determine the fate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr. Modi is a Hindu nationalist seeking his third term as the nation’s leader. If successful, he will be only the second Indian Prime Minister to secure three victories. Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first leader at the end of British rule, is the only previous Prime Minister to win more than two terms in office.

Voting runs until June 1, with counting commencing three days later. Polls predict victory for Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, which is competing against an alliance led by the Indian National Congress. This coalition of over 20 smaller parties has yet to name a potential successor to Modi and says it will choose a Prime Minister only if it is victorious.

India often expresses pride in the size of its elections, with polling booths situated in even the country’s remotest regions. It boasts the world’s largest electorate and the world’s highest voting booth, situated 15,256 feet up the Himalayan mountains. This year’s electorate will include 18 million first-time voters.

During the last poll in 2019, which saw the highest-ever turnout at 67%, 73-year-old Narendra Modi sailed to victory after being credited with implementing social reforms and tackling corruption. Modi, who sold tea with his father and comes from a modest background, has a monthly radio show where he discusses issues important to India’s varied communities. He is unmarried and without children and refers to the Indian population as his family.

Critics often point to his elevation of Hindu nationalism as exclusionary, however, and the nation’s 200 million Muslims say they face persecution. Modi encountered Islamophobia accusations after referring to Indian Muslims as “infiltrators” at a recent election rally.

Copyright 2024,