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India Begins General Election Vote As Prime Minister Modi Seeks Third Term

India’s PM Modi, in his bid to secure a third term, has promised to make India a top 3 global economy.

India kicked off the world’s largest election on Friday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi vying for an unprecedented third term in office.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces stiff competition from a coalition of opposition parties, presenting voters with starkly different visions for the country’s future.

The mammoth electoral process, involving nearly one billion voters, will unfold over seven phases across India, culminating in vote counting on June 4. The first phase, commencing on Friday, encompasses 102 constituencies spread across 21 states and territories, from the southern region of Tamil Nadu to the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Voters, including senior citizens and first-time voters, turned out in large numbers, eager to cast their ballots amid tight security measures. Many expressed varying concerns, from issues of unemployment to the broader performance of the government under Modi’s leadership.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda, a hallmark of his tenure, has been a focal point of debate. However, some voters, like Abdul Sattar from Uttar Pradesh, believe that Modi’s track record on safety and security outweighs any religious considerations. Others, like Mohammed Shabbir, prioritise economic issues such as unemployment over religious identity.

Despite widespread concerns about economic challenges like unemployment and inflation, surveys suggest that the BJP is poised for a comfortable victory. The party’s election manifesto, titled “Modi Ki Guarantee,” underscores its leader-centric approach, with Modi pledging to fulfill promises made to voters and propel India into the top three economies globally.

Modi’s candidacy has sparked both enthusiasm and criticism. His supporters highlight achievements like India’s moon landing and anti-corruption efforts, while critics accuse the government of targeting minority groups, particularly Muslims, to appease its Hindu base.

The opposition alliance, led by the Congress party’s Rahul Gandhi, frames the election as an ideological battle to safeguard democracy and constitutional values.

As the election unfolds, both the BJP and the opposition face challenges. While the BJP aims to secure a historic victory, the opposition struggles to unify and mount a cohesive challenge against Modi’s dominance.

Allegations of government interference, including arrests of opposition leaders and tax demands, have further fuelled tensions ahead of the vote.

In his appeal to voters, Modi emphasised the importance of participation and urged young and first-time voters to exercise their franchise.

If successful, Modi would become only the second Indian prime minister to be elected for a third consecutive term, a feat previously achieved by post-independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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