Voting in India’s crucial third phase of parliamentary elections in the Hindi heartland, which also includes the Indian capital has ended, with millions of people coming out to vote.
Thursday’s polling saw high turnout in New Delhi at 64 percent, while Madhya Pradesh registered 55.98 percent, Maharashtra 54.13 percent, UP 65 percent and Jammu 66.29 percent, according to timesofindia.com website.
Nearly 110 million people were eligible to vote in the latest phase spread across 11 of India’s 28 states and three federally administered union territories.
Ninety one constituencies spread across New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Chandigarh, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep, and Jammu and Kashmir went to polls.
Voters in eastern Bihar state’s Gaya city cast their ballots on Thursday and sealed the fate of candidates contesting from various political parties as well as independent candidates.
The elections to choose members to the 543-seat Lok Sabha, or House of the People, will be spread over five weeks, kicking off in two small northeastern states on April 7.
Braving the outlawed rebels, people in Maoist-hit areas spread across the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh came out to vote.
“We have come here to vote because we want an eligible leader to be elected who will work for our welfare and progress. Our main priority is to cast vote and then do anything else,” said a voter, Geetanjali, in Gumla district of Jharkhand.
But villagers of Sameli, a small hamlet located in Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh abstained from voting after being intimidated by Maoist rebels, Reuters reported.
According to election officials, only five people came forward to cast their votes till afternoon.
Meanwhile, Soni Sori, a tribal lady and candidate of India’s Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) in the constituency came forward to cast her vote.
“I feel very sad seeing the situation here, as people are not able to come and cast their votes. It is their helplessness, I understand that, because I have lived in this village. I will not accuse the villagers for this,” Sori said.
|Web Exclusive: India’s Naxal heartland|
Delhi witnessed higher turnout compared to 2009 polls.
“My vote today will be for a strong leader who will steer away the country from inflation and corruption,” Rajan Kumar, 37, a BJP supporter, told Al Jazeera in New Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. “I’ll be voting for the new leadership.”
Al Jazeera’s Faiz Jamil, reporting from Gurgaon in Haryana, said improving the economy and infrastructure was an important priority for voters in Delhi’s satellite city.
Rural areas around Gurgaon, one of India’s most modern towns, had seen some effects of growth, but were hoping for more, he said.
Hours before polling started, suspected Maoist rebels blew up a jeep carrying paramilitary soldiers, killing two and wounding three others hours before voting began in the eastern Bihar state, the police said.
The soldiers were patrolling a forest in a rebel stronghold in Munger district when their jeep hit a land mine nearly 225km southeast of Patna, the state capital, police officer Jitendra Rana told the AP news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Baba Umar contributed to this report.