Voting for seventh phase ends in India

Brisk polling recorded as 89 constituencies across seven states vote to elect their representatives for parliament.

Brisk polling was recorded in major Indian states while election boycott in Kashmir marred the exercise [EPA]

Polls for 89 seats in several states and two union terroritories have closed in India’s staggered Lok Sabha elections.

Brisk polling was recorded in the major Indian states while election boycott in India-administered Kashmir marred the exercise on Wednesday.

Nearly 70 percent polling was recorded in the first election in Telangana, which is set to become India’s 29th state on June 2, while Punjab witnessed 72 percent of polling, according to officials.

The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli saw 85 percent of polling while Daman and Diu, another union territory, recorded a voter turnout of 76 percent.

Officials in Bihar recorded a voter turnout of 60 percent while Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh witnessed 56 percent and 70 percent of polling.

More than 80 percent voting was recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal while Gujarat recorded 62 percent of voting.

One person was killed and dozens injured in India-administered Kashmir when police fired bullets and tear gas to break up anti-India and pro-boycott demonstrations as voters largely stayed away from voting in the restive region. Officials recorded 25.62 percent voting in the region.

Both the ruling Congress party and rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have high stakes in the seventh phase of the elections, with 35 and 23 seats from the previous election.

Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president; her BJP counterpart Rajnath Singh; and BJP heavyweights LK Advani and Narendra Modi were the key candidates in Wednesday’s polls.

Some of the politically important constituencies that went to the polls included Gandhi bastion of Rae Bareli and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and Gandhinagar and Vadodara in Gujarat.

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Other big names include Farooq Abdullah, the former chief minister of India-administered Kashmir who is locked in a war of words with Modi .

India’s Election Commission called for a police case after claims that the opposition BJP leader Narendra Modi intended to “influence” voters by flashing his party symbol and addressing media outside the polling station.

The election laws forbid campaigning within 100 metres of a polling area.

Modi voted in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city where he flashed his party’s ‘lotus’ symbol and later tweeted a selfie. Police have filed cases and the probe has begun.

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Aam Aadmi Party, which is striving to emerge as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress party, has fielded candidates in 24 constituencies.

Along with Gujarat, Punjab witnessed polls in a single phase, with Arun Jaitley – leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha (upper House of parliament) – battling Amarinder Singh, a former state chief minister, in the keenly fought electoral seat of Amritsar.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies