Indians voted in the crucial third phase of national elections Thursday, with millions going to the polls in the heartland states that are essential to the main opposition Hindu nationalist party’s bid to end the 10-year rule of Congress party.
Suspected Maoist rebels, who have urged a boycott, briefly disrupted voting in their strongholds in eastern Bihar state and neighbouring Chhattisgarh, carrying out acts of violence despite thousands of security forces fanning out in the area.
Nearly 110 million people were eligible to vote in the third phase of the elections in 92 constituencies in 11 of India’s 28 states and three federally administered union territories. The multiphase voting across the country runs until May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of Parliament announced May 16.
Parts of sprawling Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states were among the places holding balloting on Thursday.
Hours before the voting began, Maoist insurgents blew up a jeep carrying paramilitary soldiers, killing two and wounding three others and causing a suspension in voting in some parts of eastern Bihar state, police said.
The soldiers were patrolling a forest in a rebel stronghold in Munger district when their jeep hit a land mine nearly 225 kilometres (145 miles) southeast of Patna, the state capital, police officer Jitendra Rana said.