Article published on the 2009-04-30 Latest update 2009-04-30 14:47 TU
A queue of voters at a polling station in Durvesh village, about 100 kilometres from Mumbai on 30 April 2009
The third stage of Indian elections began on Thursday and millions of Indians had their chance to vote in states seen as strongholds of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But a boycott by separatists has limited voter turnout.
A number of Bollywood stars turned out on Thursday to play their part in the world’s largest exercise in democracy.
Actor-director Aamir Khan, producer Kiran Rao and actor John Abrahim joined other stars of the Indian film industry to cast their votes.
But a boycott by separatists, who are opposed to New Delhi's rule has restricted turnout.
"At many places it was zero, and not a single voter had turned up at the booths," said correspondent Shujaat Bukhari.
The third round of elections covers the financial hub Mumbai and other states in western and central India.
Only 26 per cent of the 1.1 million eligible voters turned out in Kashmir's Anantnag-Pulwama constituency. Although in rural areas the boycott has not been as strong.
A policeman watching a queue of voters in Champashari village on the outskirts of Siliguri city on 30 April 2009
"In south Kashmir there is a strike, but people are still coming, not in long queues, but in twos, threes, and the percentage is picking up," Bukhari told RFI. "Certainly in rural areas there is not that much of an impact of the boycott call given by separatists," he added.
The battle between the ruling Congress party and the BJP has intensified, and it is thought the opposition BJP is currently trailing its rival in the polls, which end on 13 May.
2009-04-30 09:11 TU