India elections underway as 10 percent of world population goes to polls

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption India is holding elections in 2019

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption India is holding elections in 2019

There are 543 parliamentary seats up for grabs, including that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who's running for a second term.

As the country of 1.3 billion people embarks on its huge vote, the Election Commission said NaMo TV, which is sponsored by Modi's right-wing party, had to submit all of its content for approval.

The BJP alone won a landslide 282 seats five years ago, securing a clear single-party majority for the first time in decades and raising hopes of economic reform after a period of sluggish growth.

Modi has long enjoyed high approval ratings.

In recent months, Modi has met privately at least four times with several of Bollywood's biggest personalities, most of whom have posted selfies with him on social media, accompanied by glowing captions. An Indian voter may have patriotic or nationalistic feelings but certainly will not support eternal hostility with Pakistan and controlling J&K by sheer use of force. In 2019, almost 19 million Indians will be jobless, and roughly 39 million will work in poor-quality jobs vulnerable to displacement, according to estimates by the International Labour Organization.

"Don't forget 2004", Sonia Gandhi told reporters, referring to her party's victory that year despite predictions of a BJP sweep.

The first item in the opposition Congress party's election manifesto describes a plan for creating jobs.

The picture is mixed on inflation.

"The number one tasks of the two governments is how are we going to reduce poverty and the way we reduce poverty is by settling our differences through dialogue and there is only one difference, which is Kashmir", he said. While the Congress considers Jammu & Kashmir an integral part of India it favours a political solution instead of further alienating the people of J&K from India. Even so, low food prices are hurting India's farmers, who constitute a large base of voters.

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As they prepare to vote, 65 percent of Indians think terrorism is a very big challenge for the country, and 59 percent think it has gotten worse under Modi.

But places like Bishara present an alternative to Modi's development narrative.

Indian law says no one should have to travel more than two kilometers (about 1.25 miles) to vote. And that is exactly what Modi has done. On Tuesday a state lawmaker was killed in a suspected rebel attack. Voters also care about national security, after India and its archrival Pakistan - both nuclear powers - exchanged airstrikes this winter.

However, India had strongly rejected Qureshi's claims, dubbing it as "irresponsible and preposterous" statement made by Pakistan "with a clear objective of whipping up war hysteria in the region". If Modi is perceived as having had the better of the skirmish, he is likely to make inroads at the ballot box.

But distress over growing unemployment and weak farm incomes in rural areas, home to two-thirds of Indians, is expected to shrink the BJP alliance's majority from the 2014 election.

What if Modi's BJP doesn't win an election this time around? As rightly stated by noted Indian writer Amartya Sen that, "the extreme Hindu political movement that spearheaded the present turmoil has gone into demanding an official end to Indian secularism, to be replaced by the recognition of India as a Hindu state".

Indian election officials and paramilitary soldiers with election materials travel on a country boat to cross the river Brahmaputra on the eve of first phase of general election in Majuli, Assam, India, Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

An hour after sunrise Thursday in India, the world's largest exercise of democracy got underway.

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