Vajpayee favoured in poll

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The elections kick off a process that is expected to see the ruling Hindu nationalists returned to power on a wave of goodwill generated by economic prosperity, peace moves with Pakistan and cricketing success.

More than 670million voters will vote for candidates to the 543-seat lower house of India’s bicameral parliament.

“This is the world’s largest event and we are set to see it is successfully conducted,” said Rajesh Malhotra, a spokesman for India’s autonomous Election Commission.

The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has vowed to turn India into a superpower by 2020, is banking on robust economic growth to put it in office for the fourth time since 1996.