South Asia

India’s Modi votes as general election reaches midpoint

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote early on Tuesday as India conducted the third phase of its extensive general election, urging a robust turnout despite the intense summer heat.

The election, which started on April 19, spans seven phases with nearly one billion eligible voters.

The ballots are scheduled to be counted on June 4. Modi, who is seeking a third consecutive term, faces a coalition of more than two dozen opposition parties. Polls indicate his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to secure a comfortable majority.

“I urge all citizens to vote in large numbers and celebrate the festival of democracy. To all those working in the heat, I urge you to take care of your health and drink adequate water,” Modi stated after voting in Gujarat, his home state.

He voted in the Gandhinagar constituency, where his deputy, Home Minister Amit Shah, is the BJP’s candidate. Dressed in saffron and white, Modi was greeted by hundreds of supporters and party members. He signed autographs and interacted with children while heading to the polling station.

Shah welcomed Modi amid the sounds of drums and ringing bells.

Initially, Modi’s campaign highlighted his economic achievements, welfare initiatives, national pride, and personal popularity. However, after the first voting phase on April 19, the focus shifted toward energizing the BJP’s Hindu base by criticizing opponents as favoring Muslims, despite voter concerns primarily revolving around jobs and inflation.

In a Times Now interview broadcasted on Monday, Modi emphasized his respect for Islam and expressed his desire for the Muslim community to consider their future growth as they vote.

Spotify has introduced an “election playlist” to encourage voter turnout, and celebrities have been active in radio and TV ads to promote participation.