New Delhi: Voting for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will start on 11 April, the Election Commission said on Sunday, announcing a 7-phase schedule for the world’s biggest democratic exercise. Four states, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, will also vote for new provincial governments. The contest for 543 Lok Sabha seats pits the ruling BJP’s Narendra Modi against Rahul Gandhi led Congress party which is attempting to work with regional parties to try stopping PM Modi’s return to power. PM Modi the second non-Congress Prime Minister after Atal Bihari Vajpayee to complete a full term in office is making a strong pitch for his re-election. How it pans out in the end, will be known on 23 May when the Election Commission says, the votes will be counted. Nearly 900 million voters are entitled to vote, many of them will be voting for the first time in the national elections and have been the focus of PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi’s campaigns. “The festival of democracy, Elections are here,” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi minutes after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule, urging people to participate in the poll process. “I hope this election witnesses a historic turnout. I particularly call upon first-time voters to vote in record numbers,” PM Modi said, reinforcing his outreach to young voters.