Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wear T-shirts supporting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bhopal on April 23, 2019. Gagan Nayar/AFP/Getty Images
The third phase of India’s mammoth general election is underway, with voters in 117 constituencies heading to the polls across 13 states and two union territories.
Tuesday will conclude the voting in the bellwether states of Gujarat, Kerala, and Karnataka.
There are four more rounds of voting still to come in the world’s largest election involving over 900 million voters in total, but this is the largest phase so far.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the main opposition party Congress will face off directly in Gujarat.
In the previous national election in 2014, the BJP won all the seats in the state but Congress expects to make headway after a stronger than expected performance in the 2017 state elections there.
In Karnataka last year, Congress narrowly defeated the BJP to form a coalition government.
BJP president Amit Shah is standing for election for the lower house for the first time, in the city of Gandhinagar in Gujarat. For the past two years he has sat in the upper house of Parliament. Shah led the party to sweeping victories in his tenure as its president and campaign manager.
Another constituency to watch is Wayanad in Kerala, one of two seats being contested by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He has traditionally run for election from his home seat of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh but added the Kerala seat to his list a few weeks ago.
Gandhi has said he is standing there to make the point that the states in southern India are just as important as those in the Hindu heartland in the north.
Ballots will also be cast in the states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Tiny Goa, with two seats, will also vote on Tuesday, as will the northeastern state of Tripura where polling was postponed last week due to security shortcomings.
Voting will end at 5 p.m Tuesday, with the next phase scheduled for April 29.
The seventh and final phase is on May 19 with the overall result to be announced four days later.