Modi's Home State Gujarat Among 11 Territories Voting In Third Phase Of Giant Indian Election | Old North State Wealth News
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Modi’s home state Gujarat among 11 territories voting in third phase of giant Indian election

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By Sumit Khanna

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – Eleven Indian states and territories including Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s home state of Gujarat began voting on Tuesday in the third phase of general elections, with the country’s Election Commission urging people to ensure a strong turnout.

India began voting on April 19 in a seven-phase election in which nearly one billion people are eligible to vote, with votes set to be counted on June 4.

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

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

But it changed tack after the first phase and focused more on firing up BJP’s Hindu base by attacking rivals as pro-Muslim, even as surveys say jobs and inflation are the main concerns of voters.

In an interview with broadcaster Times Now aired on Monday, Modi said he does not oppose Islam or Muslims and wants the community to think about their future growth as they vote.

Tuesday’s polling covers 93 seats in 11 states and territories, with Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west and Karnataka in the south accounting for 50 seats.

Modi will be among the 172 million voters eligible to vote on Tuesday. He is expected to cast his ballot in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar constituency where his powerful number two, Home Minister Amit Shah, is the BJP candidate.

In the 2019 elections, the BJP won more than 70 of 93 seats up for grabs on Tuesday, but faces tougher contests this time as the main opposition Congress party has gained strength in Karnataka and a regional partner has split in Maharashtra.

Voter turnout of 66.14% and 66.71% respectively in the first two phases has been marginally lower than corresponding phases five years back, with analysts blaming the summer heat and the lack of a single strong issue to motivate voters.

The Election Commission has since stepped up its campaigns to encourage people to vote while consulting with weather officials and health and disaster management agencies to deal with the impact of heatwave conditions on Tuesday’s vote.

“Weather conditions are predicted to be within normal ranges,” it said in a statement on the eve of the vote, calling on voters to “turnout in greater numbers at polling stations and vote with responsibility and pride”.

It is also pushing voter awareness to raise participation through messages and songs during Indian Premier League cricket matches, Facebook alerts, announcements at train stations and on flights, messages on train tickets, milk pouches, at gas stations, and films and songs at cinema theatres, among others.

Music app Spotify has created an “election playlist” to motivate voters, and celebrities are being used to make appeals through radio and TV commercials, it said.

(Reporting by Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad; Writing by YP Rajesh; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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