India’s election turnout drops in the second phase


India staged the second phase of the world’s largest election on Friday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his rivals accusing each other of religious intolerance and threats to democracy as voter turnout fell.

Almost one billion people are eligible to vote in the seven-phase general election, which began on April 19 and will end on June 1, with results being tabulated on June 4.

Modi is running for a record-tying third term on the strength of his economic performance, welfare initiatives, national pride, Hindu nationalism, and personal popularity. Surveys indicate that he will easily gain a comfortable majority.

His opponents have established an alliance of more than two dozen parties, promising further affirmative action, more giveaways, and an end to what they call Modi’s dictatorial regime.

On Friday, 88 of the 543 seats in the lower house of parliament went to the polls, with 160 million people eligible to vote in 13 states and federal territories.

At the close of polling, the estimated voter turnout for Friday was 61%, down from 65% in the first phase last week and 68% in the second phase five years ago.

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Muhammad Kamal
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