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Summary

  1. Elections for a new lower house of parliament are being held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May
  2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP is battling the Congress party of Rahul Gandhi and powerful regional parties
  3. With 900 million eligible voters, this will be the largest election the world has ever seen
  4. More than 140 million people were eligible to vote in the first phase, across 20 states and union territories
  5. The parliament has 543 elected seats and any party or coalition needs a minimum of 272 MPs to form a government

Live Reporting

By Ayeshea Perera, Aparna Alluri, Kevin Ponniah and Krutika Pathi

All times stated are UK

  1. Thanks for reading

    Officials check voting machines in the eastern state of West Bengal
    Image caption: Officials check voting machines in the eastern state of West Bengal

    With polling stations across the country closing their doors, we are going to end live updates.

    We hope you've enjoyed our coverage of the first day of voting in the world's biggest election.

    Here's a short recap of what happened today:

    • Voting kicked off at 07:00 local time, with tens of millions of Indians flocking to polling booths across 20 states and union territories to cast their ballots in 91 constituencies.
    • Day one has concluded - but this was just the first of seven days (or phases) of voting, which will take place over six weeks. Results will be declared on 23 May.
    • Violence flared in a few places throughout the day. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, two men were killed in different districts amid clashes at polling booths
    • In Chhattisgarh state, where suspected Maoist rebels killed a lawmaker and five others on Tuesday, an explosive device was detonated at a voting station before polls opened. No-one was hurt.
    • In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, scores of Muslims and Dalits (formerly known as "untouchables") told the BBC that their names were missing from voter lists.
    • Across India, people from all walks of life - from tribal women to nuns - turned up to vote.

    You can follow the latest updates on the Indian elections here, as well as on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Our correspondents will also be reporting for BBC World News television and the BBC World Service.

  2. Clashes in Andhra Pradesh

    A 60-year-old man has died as a result of clashes that broke out at a polling booth in Chittoor district in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, police have confirmed.

    It is the second death reported today as a result of poll violence.

    The man was killed after a fight broke out between party workers from the state's ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the main opposition YSR Congress Party.

    Another man was left badly injured.

    Earlier today, a man in a different district in Andhra Pradesh also died after violence flared at a polling booth. Four people were left critical there.

    Map of Andhra Pradesh
  3. Voting draws to a close

    Polling booths across the 20 states and union territories where constituencies are voting today have begun to shut.

    In Chhattisgarh state, where Maoist rebels carry out regular attacks, booths began closing in some areas as early as 15:00.

    Voters in many constituencies, like Nagpur in the western state of Maharashtra, have until 18:00 local time to cast their ballot.

    But many polling stations could stay open beyond their scheduled closing times, as officials say they won't shut booths until every last voter in the queue has had the opportunity to cast a ballot.

    Voters still waiting in line in Nagpur constituency with an hour to go before closing time.
    Image caption: Voters were waiting in line in Nagpur with an hour to go before closing time
  4. Voting at... 102

    Our correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan met India's oldest voter, who is 102!

    Shyam Saran Negi is a retired school teacher and he has voted in every Indian election since 1952.

    He lives in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, which will go to the polls on 19 May.

    And of course, he plans to vote this time too.

    Video content

    Video caption: Oldest voter explains why it's important to vote
  5. Latest update on voter turnout

    At 15:00, after eight hours of voting, voter turnout was well above 50% in many states and union territories.

    In 2014, over all phases, average voter turnout across the country was 66.4%

    View more on twitter
  6. Faulty machines turn back voters

    Electronic Voting Machine

    Glitches are being reported with some electronic voting machines (EVMs) at several polling stations in the western state of Maharashtra - where Mumbai is the capital.

    Officials told the PTI news agency that the faulty machines were "replaced quickly" and that voting continues.

    But some voters complained that the machines took so long to replace that people started heading home, without voting.

    As a result, some political parties in the state have asked for stations to be kept open past the official closing time.

    If you're wondering how the voting process - and these machines - work, watch the video below.

    Video content

    Video caption: How do Indians vote?
  7. A new citizen casts his vote

    Soutik Biswas

    India Correspondent

    For more than four decades of his life, Khitish Burman, an Indian, lived a stateless existence in a small pocket of land in Bangladeshi territory.

    These enclaves - 111 in Bangladesh and 51 in India - were home to some 50,000 people until July 2015 when both countries swapped control of land in each other’s territories.

    Residents were asked to choose where they wanted to live and which nationality they would prefer.

    Mr Burman and his extended family decided to leave their home and large garden and farm in Bangladesh and move across the border to Dinhata in Cooch Behar, West Bengal.

    They were given citizenship papers and voter cards in recognition of their newfound Indian citizenship.

    More than three years later, they continue to live in a camp made up tin-roofed tenements.The government provides the 58 families in the camp with free rice, lentils and cooking oil.

    But Mr Burman was given no land, and has no sustainable source of a livelihood.

    Khitish Burman

    Life is a struggle: sometimes he works on other people’s farms for 200 rupees (£2.20; $2.90) a day; other times he squats on the roadside and sells cheap clothes.

    ‘I am a farmer and I need to farm,’ he says.

    Still, he stepped out this morning to cast his ballot.

    Mr Burman, 51, says he voted purely because it was a right he had earned after being a stateless citizen for nearly five decades.

    "For 48 years of my life I never got a chance to vote. I voted because voting makes be feel empowered. It is a right and gives me dignity. That is the only reason I voted."

  8. A quick catch-up

    If you're just joining us, let us help you get up to speed:

    • The world's largest democratic exercise kicked off at around 07:00 local time. Some 142 million people are eligible to vote today in 18 states and two union territories, and they will elect representatives for 91 parliamentary seats
    • But it's just the first of what will be seven days - or phases - of voting over six weeks. Results will be declared on 23 May.
    • There have been a few incidents of violence. One man was killed in clashes at a polling booth in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
    • In Chhattisgarh state, where Maoist rebels regularly carry out attacks, an explosive device was detonated at a voting station before polls opened but no-one was hurt
    • Everywhere else across India, people have been waiting in line to cast their ballots. Voters of all ages and from all walks of life - from tribal women to nuns - have been turning up to participate
    • Polling stations will start to close in the next hour
    Infogaphic showing scale of the election
  9. Young and jobless

    The BBC's Sameer Hashmi in Mumbai has been talking to some young graduates, for whom jobs are a real concern.

    The availability of work is a key issue in this election and Prime Minister Modi's government has been accused of withholding reports that show record levels of unemployment.

    Nearly one in every five young people is unable to find a job, according to a leaked report.

    View more on twitter
  10. The power of the south

    The two southern states voting today - Andhra Pradesh and Telangana - are crucial because they are both regional party strongholds.

    If either of the two national parties - Congress and BJP - fall short of a majority, they will try to woo regional politicians who perform strongly, in order to get the required number of seats for a parliamentary majority.

    Telangana’s chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is hoping to be a kingmaker. The state sends 17 MPs to the Lok Sabha and Mr Rao’s party is contesting all of them.

    Ruling coalitions in the past have included parties with as few as 16 seats.

    Telangana's chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao
    Image caption: K Chandrasekhar Rao - a possible kingmaker

    In Andhra Pradesh, three regional parties are competing for 25 parliamentary seats. The stakes are especially high since the state is also voting to elect its state legislature.

    Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has been campaigning heavily to retain power - he is up against Jagan Mohan Reddy, head of the YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyan, a southern film actor-turned politician, who recently founded the Jana Sena Party.

    Jana Sena leader Pawan Kalyan
    Image caption: The actor-turned politician Pawan Kalyan leads one of the three regional parties competing in Andhra Pradesh.
  11. Narendra Modi is back on the campaign trail

    Even as millions cast their ballots on Thursday, the Indian prime minister is back to campaigning.

    He has a long road ahead of him - his constituency of Varanasi goes to the polls on 19 May, the last phase of voting.

    View more on twitter
  12. Scenes from some of India's earliest polls

    This is what Indian elections looked like in the 1950s and 1960s.

    A candidate on a camel is seen campaigning ahead of an election in the 1950s
    Image caption: This candidate travelled on a camel because that was his party's symbol
    Placards and banners being carried by boys canvassing for political parties during the Indian general election
    Image caption: Election placards in the 1950s were a simple affair - and party workers carried them around while canvassing for candidates
    Women outside a polling both in the 1950s.
    Image caption: Around 60% of eligible women turned out to cast ballots in India's first two elections.
    An old man is carried by a neighbour to the polling station for the election of representatives of the West Bengal Assembly on January 14, 1952, in Bhadreswar, India
    Image caption: This old man was carried by his neighbour so he could vote in West Bengal state in 1952, during India's first ever election.
    An election news board, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi, India, 1962.
    Image caption: People in Delhi watch an election "news board" in 1962 that was manually updated - this is how they tracked the results
  13. Why do India's elections matter to you?

    In case you're just joining us and wondering what all the fuss is about, India is voting in the largest election the world has ever seen.

    And our correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan explains why it's important to everyone - not just Indians.

    Video content

    Video caption: India elections: Three reasons why they are important
  14. The citizens deprived of a vote

    Geeta Pandey

    Women and Social Affairs editor, BBC News India

    Scores of Muslim and Dalit (formerly known as "untouchable") voters in the Uttar Pradesh constituency of Baghpat are complaining that their names are missing from the voter lists.

    I meet Mobeen, 35, outside a polling centre in Baghpat town. He's upset.

    “I have an Aadhaar [ID number] and a voter ID card too, but they’re saying i can’t vote,” he fumes. He’s been here since the morning, and is still standing here at 2pm. He says he is waiting for a miracle.

    He suggests I visit Mughalpura and Maya Colony, Muslim-dominated areas of Baghpat, to find out for myself how many names are missing.

    In Mughalpura, shopkeeper Shafiq Salmani says every house has members whose names are missing from the list. In his family of nine voters, only two have been able to vote and he’s angry. “This is a planned conspiracy by the Modi government," he alleges. "They don’t want us to vote."

    View more on twitter

    Inside the colony, I’m surrounded by men and women who are disappointed at not being able to vote.

    Shabana’s family has eight voters but not one features on the voters’ list, while Haroon Abbasi says that although he was able to vote, his mother and two adult children could not.

    Gulshan Alvi and her husband have voted but their two sons and their wives are not on the list.

    View more on twitter
  15. Ensuring an inclusive election

    Disabled voter in Meghalaya
    Image caption: A disabled voter carried to a polling booth by volunteers in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.

    A part of the mandate of India's election commission is to ensure that every citizen is given the opportunity to vote.

    Therefore every year it outlines the measures it has taken to facilitate voting for the disabled.

    This year, "accessibility observers" have been appointed to ensure that polling booths provide the necessary access.

    The commission has also announced several other measures, including pick-up and drop-off services, voice sms for blind people and volunteers at polling stations to assist disabled voters.

  16. The ABC of election buzzwords

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    The run-up to the election has spawned a host of phrases and expressions that are repeated in stump speeches, at campaign rallies, and in the media.

    The terms reflect not just the vocabulary of this particular election, but also deeper themes in Indian politics.

    Here is a quick ABC:

    A is for Anti-nationals

    A derogatory term used by government supporters to attack left-wing and liberal critics

    B is for Bhakt

    A Hindi word meaning "devotee" that is used to insult Prime Minister Modi's diehard supporters.

    C is for Chowkidar

    This is a Hindi word meaning "watchman", and what Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls himself, to emphasise his vigilance against corruption and that fact that he watches over India.

    Read more from BBC Monitoring

    Screengrab showing Chowkidar titles on BJP Twitter handles
  17. Democracy in blistering heat

    Summer is just beginning in India, but temperatures are already reaching ridiculously high levels.

    Many people going out to vote are standing in lines in temperatures of 40C and more.

    And our colleague from BBC Marathi has found himself in an unusual predicament!

    View more on twitter
  18. The WhatsApp election?

    WhatsApp has performed street plays in India to spread awareness about misinformation
    Image caption: WhatsApp has performed street plays in India to spread awareness about misinformation

    Since the last election in 2014, internet usage in India's rural areas has exploded - fuelled by some of the world's lowest mobile data charges.

    This means that hundreds of millions of Indians are now online. Social media and messaging apps are a gateway to the wider country, and the world. But they are also rife with misinformation, rumours and conspiracy theories.

    Political parties haven't been blind to the power of social media - and both the ruling BJP party and opposition Congress have tried to exploit the power of WhatsApp and other platforms to try to influence voters.

    One former BJP data analyst told us that the party creates mass chat groups based on certain demographics - such as caste or religion - and then bombards them with targeted messaging.

    Much of what spreads in these groups is misleading or outright false.

    The BJP insists that these groups have no official link to the party and therefore that they can't control it.

    Read more:

    WhatsApp: The 'black hole of fake news in India's electon'