Indian voters queue up to cast their vote at a polling station in Siliguri, West Bengal on Thursday. Diptendu Dutta/ AFP
Voters across swaths of southern India began queueing up early on Thursday in the second phase of a mammoth, staggered general election in which opposition parties are trying to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a second term.
More than 155 million people are eligible to vote in the second phase, which covers 95 parliament constituencies in 12 states including parts of restive Jammu and Kashmir. India's parliament has 545 members.
The focus will be on the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where the main opposition Congress party and its allies need to win big if they hope to oust Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“If the non-BJP parties perform well in these two states, then they would still be having a chance of forming a non-BJP government at the centre,” said Sanjay Kumar, director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, a think tank based in the capital, New Delhi.
The election began last week and will end next month in a giant exercise involving almost 900 million people.
Votes will be counted on May 23 and the results are expected the same day.
The BJP began the election as the frontrunner, with Modi setting muscular national security as his campaign plank after a renewal of hostilities with neighbouring Pakistan.
India has raised its import duty on wheat to 40 per cent from 30 per cent, the government said late on Friday, as the world’s No.2 producer of the grain tries to support local farmers
India’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points on Thursday, in a widely expected move to boost the economy, while keeping its monetary policy stance “neutral” despite subdued inflation.
Despite tall claims made by Facebook that it is removing 10 lakh fake accounts a day in India, a survey revealed on Tuesday that one in two Indians has received fake news in the last 30 days and Facebook and WhatsApp are the platforms which are being used excessively to misinform the users.
The Election Commission on Saturday banned the online streaming of the web series 'Modi: Journey of a Common Man', stating that no biopic material which can disturb the level-playing field during the Lok Sabha elections can be displayed.
General Khalil Ibrahim said, “This is the largest seizure in the world…”
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