Narendra Modi

Expert Voices

Modi’s vision of India is on the ballot in parliamentary elections

India's prime minister Narenda Modi with the president of his political party
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah holding up copies of the party manifesto in New Delhi. Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Indians began casting votes for their lower house of parliament on Thursday, in an election that represents a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Why it matters: The elections are taking place amid worries about unemployment, recent tensions with Pakistan and the future of secularism in India.

India votes: World's largest election gets under way

An Indian lambadi tribeswoman shows her ink-marked finger after voting at a polling station during India's election.
An Indian lambadi tribeswoman shows her ink-marked finger after voting in India's general election at Pedda Shapur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Thursday. Photo: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

People began voting in the world's largest election Thursday, with 18 states and 2 union territories casting their ballots in the first phase of India’s six-week-long polls.

Details: Nearly a billion people will vote in the general election, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a second term in office. The Indian-controlled areas of the disputed Kashmir region were among the first to vote. The Cato Institute's Shar Khan noted in an Axios article Modi was eyeing an electoral opportunity in escalating tensions with Pakistan in the region, with reciprocal attacks in February.