'World's largest' general election to start on April 19 in India

Nearly one billion people in India are eligible to vote in what is being called the world's largest general election that begins on April 19.

The country's election commission announced on Saturday that polling will be held in phases over six weeks, with all the votes counted on June 4.

More than one million polling stations will be set up across the country where over 960 million people will cast their ballots.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, won a majority of seats in the previous 2019 general election.

The party is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has exercised strong leadership to drive the country's economic growth.
The prime minister has also increased India's diplomatic influence by chairing discussions at international conferences as one of the key leaders of the emerging and developing countries collectively known as the Global South.

The latest polls by several Indian media outlets show Modi's party is likely to maintain a parliamentary majority.

Opposition parties are stepping up their criticism of Modi. They say economic inequality has deepened under his administration. They also accuse the prime minister, who is backed by Hindu nationalists, of fanning religious divisions.

Attention is focused on how many more seats the BJP will be able to win, as Modi seeks his third consecutive term.