Millions of Indians have voted in the second phase of the country's
month-long, staggered election to choose a new parliament. Scattered incidents of violence by
suspected Maoist rebels marred the vote in some parts of the country.
of thousands of voters lined up at polling booths across 12 states to
cast their vote, as temperatures soared above 40 degrees, across the
vast plains of India.
Thursday's vote marks the second stage of
the country's five-phase election for 543 parliament seats. The
polling was mostly concentrated in eastern and central India.
Prime minister among voters
prominent voters was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He cast his vote
amid tight security in Gawahati city, in the northeastern state,
Assam. He expressed confidence that his Congress Party will return to
"There will be a Congress-led government at the center," he said.
was largely peaceful in much of the country. But suspected Maoist
guerrillas carried out sporadic attacks in eastern India, where the
rebels have bases in remote, jungle areas.
Some violence reported
Police say the
Maoists hurled a bomb at a jeep carrying polling officials, injuring at
least two people, and burned several vehicles outside a polling station
in Jharkhand. Police also engaged rebels in an hour-long gun battle
when they attempted to disrupt polling. The Maoists briefly hijacked a
train on Wednesday, but released the passengers, unharmed.
scale of the Thursday violence was less than in the first phase of
polling, held last week, when suspected Maoists killed at least 18
Ruling party vs Congress-led coalition
The main contenders in India's elections are the
ruling Congress-led coalition and the opposition alliance led by the
Bharatiya Janata Party.
Neither of the two is expected to win
a majority and regional parties are expected to play a prominent role
in deciding who will form the next government.
In the Thursday
fray were several powerful regional groups who have vowed not to ally
with either of the two main parties, but support a bid by regional
parties to come together and form a government.
Naveen Patnaik heads the Biju Janata Dal in eastern Orissa state.
am not going to be at all flexible. Certainly my party and I are not
going to be flexible about ever considering support to a Congress-led
government or a BJP-led government," said Patnaik.
will be three more rounds of voting over the coming weeks, with the
last scheduled for May 13. Votes will be counted on May 16.