Marathon national elections will be held in India from April

Marathon national elections will be held in India from April

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India announced on Saturday that national elections would begin on April 19, with Hindu-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly favored to win a third term in the world's largest democracy.

Nearly one billion people are eligible to vote in the largest process of democratic enfranchisement in human history, held over six weeks.

Many consider Modi's re-election a foregone conclusion, given both the prime minister's strong popularity and a clearly uneven playing field a decade after taking office.

His opponents are troubled by infighting and critics say it is a politically motivated legal investigation aimed at blocking challengers to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We will take democracy to every corner of the country,” Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar said at a press conference in New Delhi announcing the voting dates.

“It is our promise that we will conduct national elections in a manner that we … remain a beacon for democracy around the world.”

Voting will be held in seven phases between April 19 and June 1.

Ballots from across the country will be counted simultaneously on June 4 and usually announced on the same day.

Modi, 73, has already begun informal campaigning as he seeks to repeat his landslide victories of 2014 and 2019, built on his strong appeal to the trust of India's majority.

In January, Modi presided over the inauguration of a grand temple of Lord Ram in the once-sleepy city of Ayodhya, built on the land of a centuries-old mosque demolished by Hindu fundamentalists.

The construction of the temple fulfilled a long-standing demand of Hindu activists and was widely celebrated across India with back-to-back television coverage and street parties.

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