India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi. Pic: AP.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India says its general election will be held in several phases from April to May, with the largest election in the world kicking off April 7.

More than 810 million people are eligible to vote. The Election Commission announced the dates Wednesday.

The vote pits the incumbent Congress party against the opposition Hindu nationalist party, led by Narendra Modi. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center said 63 percent of Indians prefer Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to lead the next government.

(MORE: India readies for the biggest election on earth)

India’s Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament, has 543 elected seats. Any party or coalition needs at least 272 MPs to form a government.

India holds staggered elections for logistical and security reasons. Hundreds of thousands of security forces are deployed during the polls.

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