Brisk voting and long queues as India’s giant election begins
Indians began voting in the first phase of a mammoth general election on Thursday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a second term after campaigning strongly on his national security record following a flare-up in tensions with Pakistan.
The Election Commission said voters were turning out in large numbers in an eastern district where Maoist insurgents were blamed for a bomb attack on Tuesday, which killed a state legislator from Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and four security officials.
Two people were also killed on Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim majority state, prompting authorities to increase security even further.
Voters came to three polling stations in Muzaffarnagar on foot, by bicycle and motorcycle, in cars and on tractors.
Voting in the first of seven rounds is being held in 91 parliament constituencies across 20 states and federally administered regions. There are 543 seats at stake.
Almost 900 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are eligible to vote.
The first phase of voting covers an electorate of 142 million, some of whom will vote in pink booths staffed by female security personnel and polling officials.
The election is spread over 39 days, with the final phase on May 19 and the result announced four days later.