Today is India’s biggest voting day
Voters lined up at 7:00 am in 121 constituencies across 12 states where more than 16.61 crore voters are eligible to cast ballots.
45 of the 121 seats that will be decided today are with the Congress and its allies; the BJP and its allies hold 47.
Voting today is being held in states including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
UP, India’s most populous state, selects 80 parliamentarians; Maharashtra elects another 48. The BJP and its partners are expected to gain huge ground in both, according to opinion polls.
Among the mega battles today is the election in South Bangalore where Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is running against the BJP’s Ananth Kumar, a five-time parliamentarian.
The key polling day comes after the Gandhis, who lead the Congress, cranked up the rhetoric in a bid to claw back support from Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, daughter Priyanka and son Rahul are all on the campaign trail and have pitched Mr Modi as a danger to India’s social fabric. Mrs Gandhi alleged in a speech yesterday that he represents a “dangerous combination of religious fanaticism, power and money”.
Surveys have suggested that the Congress, under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, is heading for a crushing defeat at the hands of BJP.
Mr Modi, 63, has been wooing voters by promising to get India out of its slowest economic growth in a decade and by pointing to his track record of cutting red tape and attracting investment in his four terms as chief minister of Gujarat.
Amid allegations by detractors that the BJP has spot-lit him too heavily in its campaign, allowing him to overshadow the party, Mr Modi in an interview yesterday said all decisions about his career are taken by the party, and not by him. “As far as election results are concerned, I worked as backroom boy for the party for many years,” he said.