Virginia: Congratulating the people of India, American diplomat, and the President of US-India Business Council (USIBC), Atul Keshap has said that the country's national election is the Maha Kumbh Mela of Democracy.

In a post on X, Keshap posted a picture of the Indian tricolour and wrote, "Heartiest congratulations to the great people of India as they begin the largest exercise of electoral choice in the entire history of our species."

"With 970 million eligible voters and 1.2 million polling places, India's national election is the Maha Kumbh Mela of Democracy," he added.

The world's largest democratic exercise kicked off in the country today, with the first phase of polling in 102 constituencies across 21 states and Union Territories.

This Lok Sabha election, being held from April 19 to June 1, is set to be the second longest polling exercise in the country's electoral history after the first general election, which was held over five months between September 1951 and February 1952.

The last general elections in 2019 were also held in seven phases. Vote counting will be done on June 4.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking his third consecutive term, while the opposition bloc-INDIA- a coalition of opposing parties formed to take on the BJP in the general elections, is looking to oust him from power.

Those voting in the first phase include seats in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.

The second phase will be held on April 26 and the remaining phases will be May 7, May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1 accordingly.

(With Agency Inputs)