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AP PHOTOS: Indians set to vote in final phase of election

India's marathon general election, known as the world's largest democratic exercise, is nearing the finish line.

The first of the election's seven staggered phases was held on April 11. On Sunday, the final phase will take place, with voting to be held for the remaining 60 seats in the 543-member Lower House of Parliament.

Vote counting is scheduled to start on Thursday. India has 900 million eligible voters.

FILE - In this May 6, 2019, file photo, Indian women stand in a queue to cast their votes at a polling station at a village in Neemrana, in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoManish Swarup, File)

The election has taken place in a charged atmosphere as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party seeks a second term by pushing policies that some say have increased religious tensions and undermined multiculturalism. The campaigning has been marred by accusations and insults, as well as the unprecedented use of social media.

Voting has largely been peaceful but for sporadic violence in the eastern state of West Bengal, where Modi's BJP is trying to wrest seats from Trinamool Congress, a powerful regional party that is currently governing the state.

In a drastic and unprecedented action, India's Election Commission cut off campaigning early in West Bengal on Thursday after days of clashes in the final stretch of the election.

FILE - In this Monday, March 25, 2019 file photo, a worker prepares election campaign material for Indian political parties ahead of elections in Ahmadabad, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAjit Solanki, File)

The election is seen as a referendum on Modi and the BJP. Modi promised big-ticket economic reforms, but with unemployment rising and farmers' distress aggravated by low crop prices, his party has adopted a nationalist pitch in trying to win votes from the country's majority Hindus.

In a bid to appear as a strong leader on national security, Modi has used the disputed region of Kashmir to pivot away from his economic record, playing up the threat of archrival Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 Indian soldiers.

Opposition parties have consistently said that Modi and his party leaders are digressing from the main issues such as youth employment and farmers' suicides. The main opposition Congress party has dubbed him a "national disaster."

FILE - In this Monday, April 8, 2019 file photo, an election officer arranges election material at a distribution center ahead of general elections in Jorhat, Assam, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAnupam Nath, File)

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd during a political campaign road show in Varanasi, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP Photo Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE - In this Sunday, May 12, 2019 file photo, an Indian woman displays the indelible ink mark on her finger after casting vote standing in front of a mural depicting a scene from the Hindu epic Mahabharata in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoRajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE - In this April 10, 2019 file photo, Indian election officers and paramilitary soldiers travel on a country boat with election material over the river Brahmaputra on the eve of first phase of general election in Majuli, Assam, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAnupam Nath, File)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019 file photo, Congress party members hold a giant traditional Assamese hat called a Japi to present to party President Rahul Gandhi, left, during a public rally in Gauhati, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAnupam Nath, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, May 9, 2019 file photo, a Congress party supporter reads verses from the Quran as she waits for the arrival of party president Rahul Gandhi for an election campaign rally in New Delhi, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoManish Swarup, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, April 11, 2019 file photo, an Indian Muslim woman casts her vote at a polling station in village Sawaal near Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAltaf Qadri)

FILE - In this April 18, 2019, file photo, Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol a deserted street during the second phase of India's general elections, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, after Kashmiri separatist leaders who challenge India's sovereignty over the disputed region called for a boycott of the vote. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP Photo Dar Yasin, File)

FILE- In this Thursday, May 9, 2019 file photo, a supporter of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wears a mask of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and waits for his arrival during an election campaign rally in Prayagraj, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoRajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE - In this Tuesday, April 23, 2019 file photo, an elderly woman waits to cast her vote during the third phase of general election in Gauhati, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAnupam Nath, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, April 11, 2019 file photo, Indians stand in a queue to cast their votes outside a polling station in Sawaal village, near Meerut, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAltaf Qadri, File)

FILE - In this April 7, 2019 file photo, supporters of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) gather during an election rally in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAltaf Qadri, File)

FILE - In this Sunday, May 5, 2019 file photo, supporters cheer for Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav as a helicopter carrying Yadav lands at an election rally venue in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoRajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, April 11, 2019 file photo, Indian Muslim women hold their identification cards as they wait to cast their votes during the first phase of general elections near Ghaziabad, in Uttar Pradesh state, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoManish Swarup, File)

FILE - In this April 2, 2019 file photo, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters wear masks of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ride a motorbike during an election campaign rally ahead of general elections in Borhola village, Assam state, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAnupam Nath, File)

FILE - In this Sunday, April 7, 2019 file photo, a man cheers with a flower in his hand as supporters of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) gather during an election rally in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, India. The final phase of India’s marathon general election will be held on Sunday, May 19. The first of the election’s seven staggered phases was held on April 11. Vote counting is scheduled to start on May 23. India has 900 million eligible voters. (AP PhotoAltaf Qadri, File)