NEW DELHI: India will hold a general election in seven stages starting on April 11, the election commission said on Sunday, in what will be the world's biggest democratic exercise with Prime Minister Narendra Modi likely to benefit from tension with Pakistan.
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told reporters that about 900 million voters would be eligible for the polls, about 15 million between the ages of 18 and 19 years.
Until a few weeks ago, a shortage of jobs and weak farm
prices were seen as denting Modi's popularity. But pollsters say his ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a clear advantage over opposition parties after India's armed forces clashed with those of arch-rival Pakistan last month, triggering a wave of patriotic fervour across the country of 1.3 billion.
Wishing all political parties and candidates the very best for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 10, 2019
We may belong to different parties but our aim must be the same- the development of India and empowerment of every Indian!
"For the first time I will vote for Narendra Modi, because I like what he has done against Pakistan," said Anjali Tivari as she was picking up her son from school in Mumbai.
Best wishes to the Election Commission, all those officials and security personnel who will be on the field, across the length and breadth of India assuring smooth elections. India is very proud of the EC for assiduously organising elections for several years.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 10, 2019
"I'm impressed. He gave the right answer to Pakistan." Modi touted his government's achievements in a series of tweets after the announcement.
Anti-Pakistan wave helps Modi salvage some votes from India's unhappy farms
"I hope this election witnesses a historic turnout. I
particularly call upon first-time voters to vote in record
numbers," Modi tweeted.
The festival of democracy, Elections are here.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 10, 2019
I urge my fellow Indians to enrich the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with their active participation. I hope this election witnesses a historic turnout.
I particularly call upon first time voters to vote in record numbers.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Arora said an
election commission team had visited the state to speak to
stakeholders and has decided to appoint three special observers
to the region to monitor the polling.
He said assembly elections that are due to be held in the state, where the assembly was dissolved last year, won't take place simultaneously with the general election. Although questions were raised about how effective the
Indian military action actually was, Modi's approval rating has
soared. HSBC Securities and Capital Markets said in a note that
national security and nationalism could trump economic issues in
determining voters preferences.
India's unemployment rate in February rose to the highest since September 2016, data from private think-tank Centre for
Monitoring Indian Economy showed, even as the economy grew at
its slowest pace in five quarters in the last three months of
Votes will be counted on May 23, he said.