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Millions of Indians Voting in 3rd Phase of West Bengal Election

Millions of Indians are voting Thursday in the eastern state of West Bengal to elect a regional assembly, with ruling communists hoping to win power for a seventh consecutive term.

There was a heavy turnout this morning as voters braved scorching temperatures in the state capital, Calcutta and two other neighboring districts. Thursday's vote is the third stage of a state-wide election process that began earlier this month.

Twelve million people are registered to vote in Thursday's ballot, which will choose about a quarter of the seats in the 294-member state parliament.

Officials say the election is progressing without any major disturbances.

The final stage of voting in West Bengal will take place May 8, and vote counting will start three days later.

West Bengal's assembly has been controlled by a left-wing alliance since 1977.

The communists are allies of India's ruling Congress Party. But they have been critical of Congress for privatizing state firms and reaching a nuclear energy deal with Washington.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters.