India’s richest families, Bollywood stars vote in fourth phase of giant election

Vastavam web: Some of India’s richest families, Bollywood stars and others voted early on Monday in Mumbai and elsewhere in the country as the fourth phase of a massive, staggered general election got underway. More than 127 million people are eligible to vote in this round of the seven-phase election held across 71 seats in nine states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition won more than 75 percent of the seats in the previous election in 2014.

However, political analysts say the BJP may struggle to repeat its strong showing this time due mainly to a jobs shortage and weak farm prices, issues upon which the main opposition Congress party has seized. “Jobs should be the priority for the new government,” said Aaditya Nair, a hotel management student, as he stood in line outside a polling station in Mumbai. Mumbai is home to the massive Hindi film industry, as well as Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, and India’s richest banker, Uday Kotak.

Ambani, who heads Reliance Industries, and Kotak, managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank, created a stir this month by publicly endorsing a Congress candidate from their upscale South Mumbai constituency. The election, the world’s biggest democratic exercise with about 900 million voters, started on April 11 with Modi in the lead amid heightened tension with long-time enemy Pakistan. he last phase of voting is on May 19, with results released four days later. There are a total of 545 seats in parliament’s lower house.