In India, polls open today in a highly anticipated parliamentary election that is widely seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking a second term in office. India is the world’s largest democracy with 900 million eligible voters. The voting will take place in seven phases through May 19. Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP won a landslide victory in 2014. Modi’s main opponent in this election is Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party. Gandhi’s father, grandmother and great grandfather have all served as prime minister.
Modi’s government has been criticized for a crackdown on civil society, targeting political opponents, journalists, human rights activists, lawyers and writers. Human rights groups have also raised the alarm on attacks against vulnerable populations, especially Dalits and Muslims.