Voting underway in state assembly elections in India

In India, five states are holding assembly elections this month, with more than 160 million people expected to cast votes, out of the country's total population of 1.4 billion. The elections will test the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is aiming to secure his third term in office in next year's national elections.

Two of the five states, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram, began voting on Tuesday.

As security officers guarded the polling booths, people lined up to take their turn to vote. They have several issues in mind when choosing candidates.

A female voter who came to the polling station in the state of Chhattisgarh for her first time said that all problems affecting the community, including those pertaining to drainage or the water supply, should be solved.

Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, is in direct contest with the main opposition party and other regional parties.

Success in Hindi-speaking states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh is crucial for the BJP in these elections, as they account for a sizable number of seats in national elections.

The parliament has recently passed legislation reserving one-third of its seats for female members. But, despite this growing awareness, the number of female candidates in these local elections is still low in both the BJP and the main opposition Congress party. Women account for less than 12 percent of the candidates.

Modi remains a popular political figure in India. But his party will nonetheless be tested on a range of issues from the economy, unemployment and his government's performance.