India Will Hold the World's Biggest Elections

India Will Hold the World's Biggest Elections
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18 April 2024
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Starting Friday and for 44 days, nearly 970 million people are called to the polls for India's general elections, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's religious nationalism will seek a third term.

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On Thursday, several million officials and security personnel were deployed in over a hundred constituencies across 20 states that will vote tomorrow in the first phase of elections, in which 100 out of over 500 seats in the Lower House will be contested.

In the desert city of Bikaner, in the state of Rajasthan, the high temperatures, nearing 40 degrees, are not a hindrance. Youths stationed around a local market assure that they will participate tomorrow in "The Festival of Democracy."

The Election Commission of India (ECI) estimates that around 15 million of its workers will be deployed throughout the country to ensure the proper functioning of the elections, which polls predict will result in an absolute majority for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In Bikaner alone, a city with just over half a million inhabitants, nearly 10,000 electoral officials went to the two main university campuses on Thursday to collect all the material before heading to polling stations in the district.

"Officials don't know where they're going until they get here, and they're deployed randomly," explained Saurabh Bhagat, representing the government in the town.

This leads to picturesque scenes, such as large crowds of workers searching for their names on two pages to find out where they'll travel and which bus they should take to get there.

Throughout the six-week duration of the elections, voters will cast their ballots in around 1.1 million polling stations, some of them in very remote areas that require the use of animals, boats, or helicopters to access.

"Challenges include reaching remote areas, providing drinking water, installing toilets in polling stations, transporting elderly and disabled persons," said Rajasthan's electoral director, Rajeev Gupta.

This effort follows the premise of the electoral regulation 'No voter left behind,' which dictates that voters must have a polling booth within two kilometers of their home, and in some cases, officials visit private residences to allow voting for the population with reduced mobility.

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