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India fills election board ahead of vote date announcement

FILE PHOTO: People walk past the Election Commission of India office building in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India appointed two officials as election commissioners on Thursday, filling vacant spots in the three-person body ahead of an expected announcement of a date for a national election likely to be won by incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The appointments come days after the unexplained resignation of one commissioner, which drew expressions of concern from several opposition parties.

Another commissioner retired in February. Both departures come at a time when India's parliamentary election, the world's largest poll with some 960 million voters, is due by May.

The Ministry of Law and Justice said in the government gazette that President Droupadi Murmu had appointed Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu as commissioners, without giving more details about them.

Opinion polls predict an easy win for Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the vote for members of the lower house of parliament.

That would give him a third straight term in the world's fifth largest economy.

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; editing by Andrew Cawthorne)