Elections in eastern Indian state test of Modi's popularity

2015-10-12 13:35
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Prakash Singh, AFP)

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New Delhi (dpa) - Balloting began in elections in India's eastern state of Bihar on Monday in a contest regarded as one test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

A total of 66.8 million voters are eligible to vote in the five-phase elections that will continue until November 5, according to the Election Commission.

Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting against a coalition of regional parties led by incumbent chief minister Nitish Kumar.

"Urging all those voting today in Bihar to vote in large numbers. I particularly urge my young friends to cast their vote," Modi wrote on his Twitter account.

Modi has campaigned for the Bihar elections, promising to bring development and jobs to one of India's poorest states.

An opposition victory would encourage parties including the main opposition Indian National Congress at the national level.

The ruling party is pushing for a ban on the killing of cows. India's Hindu majority considers the cow to be sacred.

A 50-year-old Muslim man was killed by a lynch mob in a northern Indian village last month over rumours that he ate beef.

The BJP won a landslide victory in last year's national election, but was thrashed in local elections in the capital Delhi earlier this year by the upstart anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party.

Opinion polls have shown a close race between the BJP and its rivals in Bihar. The results are expected on November 8.

Read more on:    india

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