(Bloomberg) -- Indian voters on Tuesday will decide the electoral fate of 1,640 candidates, including the heads of the nation’s two main political parties, in the third and the biggest round of polling.
About 188 million people are eligible to cast their votes in 116 constituencies spread across 13 states and two federally-administered territories. They will decide whether the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and opposition Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi will be elected as lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.
Shah is contesting from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, his home state, where Prime Minster Narendra Modi ruled more than 10 years before being elected prime minister in 2014 with the biggest mandate in three decades. Gujarat, one of India’s wealthiest states, contributed the most to Modi’s victory as the BJP made a clean sweep in all 26 seats in the state.
Five years later, the BJP is facing a challenge to repeating its 2014 performance in the state, where Congress has gained ground amid rising voter discontent over Modi’s economic policies as growth slows, job losses mount and social unrest rises. All of Gujarat’s constituencies are voting in this round of polling.
While this will be Shah’s first parliamentary election as a candidate, his record running campaigns has been exemplary: he has barely lost an election in about three decades.
Gandhi is contesting from Wayanad in the southern state of Kerala in addition to his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh, which will go to the polls later.
The BJP is aiming to defend the 62 seats it won in 2014, while Congress is seeking to increase its tally from 16. Polling in 186 of the total 543 seats has already been completed in the last two phases, which witnessed a combined turnout of 69.44 percent, more than the voter participation of 66.44 percent through all the phases of the 2014 election.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Modi to address rallies in West Bengal , OdishaGandhi to address rallies Tuesday in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan
IN THE MEDIA:
Can BJP-Sena retain the erstwhile Congress fortress?: Bloomberg QuintWill Congress retain assembly poll gains in BJP’s Gujarat citadel?: HTWhy caste math trumps parties’ income support schemes in Bihar: ToIIndia’s election panel files police complaint against BJP’s Thakur: PTI
ELECTION & MARKETS:
The BJP’s performance in Uttar Pradesh will be key, according to a JM Financial Institutional Securities Ltd. report dated April 18. The brokerage estimates that BJP and its allies could lose 37 of the 73 seats they hold in the state because of an opposition alliance. However if BJP is able to increase its vote share by 2%, it will limit its loss to just 28 seats, JM Financial saidMuted government spending and high election-related expenses have created a liquidity deficit of 700 billion rupees in the banking system, A.K. Capital says in a note on Monday. That’s “clogging the efficacy” of the central bank’s rate cuts, according to the reportREAD: As World’s Largest Democracy Votes, Here’s Where Markets StandREAD: How to diversify as India vote rocks most-expensive Asian stocks
“I feel blessed to have exercised my franchise in this biggest festival of democracy,” Modi said after casting his vote in Gujarat. “The power of the voter ID is much more than IED of terrorism,” he said referring to an improvised explosive device, or IED. "Soon after the Congress comes to power after the Lok Sabha polls, a probe will be held in the Rafale deal and the truth will be before everyone,” Gandhi said in a rally.
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