India, dates set for general elections. 814 million voters estimated
It will be the world’s largest vote in terms of registered voters. The elections will go ahead in nine stages, from April 7 to May 12 . By May 31 there will be the new Parliament and a new Prime Minister will be appointed. The main challenge is between Sonia Gandhi’s Congress and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ) .

New Delhi (AsiaNews ) - The general elections in India will take place from 7 April to 12 May. With 814 million registered voters it will be the biggest vote that the world has ever seen. The dates were announced today by the National Electoral Commission. The Indian people directly elect the new members of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), the lower house of parliament.

The elections will be divided into nine phases: April 7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 24 and 30, May 7 and12. Some states will vote on more than one day, depending on the number of divisions. The counting of votes will take place on a single day - May 16 - and the new parliament will be constituted by May 31. School exams, seasonal weather conditions and harvest times were taken into account while deciding the dates said VS Sampath , Chairman of the Electoral Commission.

These elections are the most contested in recent years. On the one hand there is the democratic and secular majority Congress party, in federal government for 10 years. On the other the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ) , the Hindu ultranationalist party and main opposition, and in particular its candidate for prime minister Narendra Modi . The latter was three times chief minister of Gujarat , and is considered a charismatic but controversial figure, especially for his involvement in the massacres of Gujarat in 2002.

Polls give Modi the lead, but analysts said neither the BJP nor the Congress have a chance of winning an absolute majority and forming a government alone. In this context, regional parties will play a key role, with whom the eventual winner will have to seek new alliances.

The leaders of 11 smaller parties have formed a Third Front candidate against the Congress and BJP. The new anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (common man'sparty ) - which won the elections in Delhi - will participate in the election race .

The Indian Constitution provides the Lok Sabha a maximum of 552 members , of which 530 represent the population of the States, 20 the population of the Territories of the Union, 2 may be appointed by the President of the country on behalf of the Anglo-Indian community . Each elected member represents a single geographic constituency

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