by Pankaj Yadav, Zhao Xu
NEW DELHI, April 11 (Xinhua) -- India on Thursday kicked off its seven-phase general elections which will span over a period of 39 days, with the results expected on May 23.
Out of the total 545 parliamentary constituencies, 543 will witness polling ending on May 19. The rest two slots will be filled through nominations by the new government from among the Anglo-Indian community.
Nearly 900 million Indians are expected to cast their ballots in over 1 million polling stations.
MODI SEEKS SECOND TERM
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a record number of 282 parliamentary seats in the last general elections in 2014. Through this year's general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term for his government.
During the past five years, the Modi government announced a series of new measures, such as "Make in India," "Clean India," and "Digital India," aimed at improving the country's image globally.
Under his "Make in India" campaign, Modi attempted to invite foreign direct investments (FDIs). Through "Clean India" he vowed to make India open-defecation free by ensuring that every household had a toilet. And "Digital India" promoted innovations thereby making the country digitally empowered in technology.
Speaking at a public gathering in eastern state of Bihar on Thursday, Modi said he had done some "unprecedented developmental works" during the past five years.
Besides his developmental agenda, Modi also tried to ensure victory for his party riding on his popularity. A biopic "Prime Minister Narendra Modi" was produced and was to be released on April 11, but the country's Election Commission imposed a temporary ban on its release till the polls are over, saying it would "disturb the level-playing field" during the elections.
However, Modi also faces a fierce competition from the opposition parties, led by the Indian National Congress (INC).
The Modi government has been accused by the opposition of not fulfilling its promises made prior to the 2014 elections. It also faced criticism for not being able to resolve farmers' woes and minority communities living in fear amid violence over issues like beef eating and intolerance among the majority Hindu community towards the minorities.
INC President Rahul Gandhi has been accusing the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government of non-performance.
Gandhi said on Thursday that the Modi government failed in generating employment and depositing 1.5 million Indian rupees in every citizen's bank accounts as the BJP had promised before the 2014 polls, and that it failed to remove farmers' miseries and was also indulged in corruption.