Cars, boats and buffalo: India heads to polls for mammoth election

India is set to vote in the world’s largest ever general election, with nearly one billion people eligible to head to the polls over six weeks, ITV News Foreign Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

When India’s polling stations open at 7am, it will mark the start of the biggest election in the world.

Almost one billion people are able to cast their vote by any means possible.

Whatever their mode of transport will be - car, bus, taxis, motorbike, boat, camel, buffalo or on foot - they will able to employ their democratic right to vote.

It is a monumental logistical challenge that will go on until June 1. The results are announced on June 4.

Because of the vast areas to be covered, different parts of the country will vote in different stages.

That allows the 15 million polling staff and election monitors as well as the security services to move between locations.

Every single voter will have the right to take part, however remote their location.

There will be computerised voting systems in big cities and remote outposts - from the Himalayas in the North all the way to the Indian Ocean in the south.

All together, there are 5.5 million voting machines in more than one millions voting stations.

Battling for a share of the vote are 2,500 parties but the favourite to win is without question the ruling BJP, led by Narendra Modi.

Opposition parties have formed a coalition to challenge him: it is named INDIA and include Raul Gandhi, heir to the Gandhi dynasty.

But the coalition face a difficult challenge as India seems weary of dynastic politics.

Two things that have struck me talking to people here is they take heart from the fact Modi is not married and has no family.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is campaigning for a third term in the general election. Credit: AP

As such, the exception is he will work for India and not his family.

Secondly, the INDIA coalition seems to confuse people. Who is a vote for the coalition for, with so many parties standing for different ideals?

India may have it’s problems with Modi, but many seem to feel that at least when they vote for him they know who they are voting for.

Many have very strong reservations but they are going to vote simply because he’s a known commodity.

It seems building the country and the party in his image is going to pay off for Modi.

For all the money that is being spent on this election, the smart money would be on the status quo.

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