India election 2024: Modi casts his vote as third phase of Lok Sabha polls starts

Sixty-one per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots to elect 93 lower house representatives across 12 states

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his ink-marked finger after voting in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Tuesday. AP
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India recorded 61.5 per cent for voter turnout in the third phase of the general elections on Tuesday, the Election Commission announced.

About 49 million voters registered for the third phase. More than 1,300 candidates took part, the commission said.

Polling took place in 93 constituencies across 12 states and federally ruled regions as part of the seven-phase polls for the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.

The commission said the data provided was until 6pm, which is the final time for voting, but polling can continue in some booths if voters are already in the queue to cast their ballots.

The north-eastern state of Assam recorded the highest voter turnout at 75.3 per cent, while neighbouring West Bengal recorded 73.9 per cent.

TV channels broadcast footage and images of voters queuing at polling stations as temperatures hovered at 42ºC in some places.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cast his vote in the Gandhinagar constituency in his home state of Gujarat.

"Voted in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Urging everyone to do so as well and strengthen our democracy,” Mr Modi said on X.

“Your active participation will add to the splendour of this festival of democracy.”

The western state of Gujarat has 26 seats but polls will be held only for 25 constituencies.

Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party won the Surat seat unopposed after the nomination of the opposition Congress candidate was rejected and eight contestants withdrew their applications.

India election 2024: Everything to know about world's biggest polls

India election 2024: Everything to know about world's biggest polls

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah is seeking re-election as the MP for Gandhinagar and will also cast his vote.

Gujarat is a stronghold of the ruling BJP, which has held power in the state for more than 22 years.

Mr Modi was chief minister of the state for more than 12 years until 2014, when he stormed to power nationally.

The BJP won all 26 constituencies in the state during the last Lok Sabha elections, in 2019.

The southern Karnataka state is crucial for the party, which won 25 out of 27 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

But it lost Karnataka to the Congress, India's main opposition party, during state elections last year over issues of development and anti-Muslim policies, such as banning the hijab in schools and universities.

The BJP is seeking to recapture the crucial region to improve its tally. Among the prominent candidates is Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

This year’s election is the second longest in the history of the country.

India took four months to complete its first general election in 1951-1952, while it took 39 days in 2019.

The election commission set up a booth in the protected areas of Gir forest – the only habitat of Asiatic lions in the world – for a Hindu monk to cast his ballot.

The elections are an extensive and expansive process in the country and cover far-flung villages in the Himalayas, desert and forests.

Election officials and security forces travel by foot, road, trains, helicopters, boats and sometimes elephants to reach remote area.

They carry the voting machines and set up temporary polling booths.

The first phase of elections took place on April 19, with a voter turnout of more than 66 per cent.

The second phase on April 26 had a similar percentage, and the fourth phase is due on May 13.

About 970 million people are eligible to vote for 543 Lok Sabha seats.

Updated: May 07, 2024, 6:42 PM