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Indian election phase four

Poll violence, boycott in Kashmir, poor turnout in Delhi

Article published on the 2009-05-07 Latest update 2009-05-07 15:27 TU

A Kashmiri opponent of Delhi rule protests in Srinagar(Photo: Reuters)

A Kashmiri opponent of Delhi rule protests in Srinagar
(Photo: Reuters)

Two people have been killed in two Indian states during the fourth phase of voting in India's general election on Thursday, while protesters backing a boycott in Kashmir are reported to have clashed with police. Apart from Kashmir, voting is taking place in the capital, New Delhi, parts of the most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, and five other states.

In West Bengal, a member of the Communist Party Marxist, which rules the state, was killed by unidentifed assailants, according to police, while two supporters of nationally-ruling Congress were injured in clashes with CPM workers in another district.

Two people also died of sunstroke while waiting to vote in the state.

Police shot dead one man in Rajasthan during an attempt to take over a polling booth in order to stuff ballot boxes.

At least one clash between demonstrators and police is reported in Kashmir, where a boycott called by separatists in the Muslim-majority state is being widely followed.

Nearly 95 million voters are eligible to to vote on Thursday's election for 85 of the 543 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha. Voting is taking place in:

  • The capital, New Delhi, where Congress won six out of seven seats in the previous election in 2004;
  • Rajastahan, where the Hindu-nationalist BJP won 21 of 25 seats in 2004;
  • Haryana, where Congress won nine out of ten seats in 2004;
  • Parts of the most populous state, Uttar Pradesh;
  • Bihar, where there is tight security in areas where Maoist guerrillas, known as Naxalites, are active;
  • Punjab, where four seats are up for grabs;
  • West Bengal, a bastion of the CPM with 17 seats;
  • Jammu and Kashmir, where voting should take place in one seats Thursday but a boycott is reportedly effective.

As few as 15 per cent are reported to have voted in Kashmir, says correspondent Vickram Roy, with voting following the national trend of 50-55 per cent in Punjab and Haryana. But the turnout seems to be poor in the capital. 

"It has been very, very thin," Roy told RFI. "Just like in Mumbai on 30 April, when the expectation was that people would vote in large numbers especially in response to last November’s carnage in the financial hub of India.”

Q+A: Delhi correspondent Vickram Roy

07/05/2009 by Mark Rodden

There has been a lack of debate between the two main parties, the BJP and Congress, because they have similar views on the economy and terrorism, Roy says.

“This is perhaps the first election that we see in more than two decades which has been completely issueless ... So far the poll pundits say that it’s Congress which has a leading edge but a clear mandate may not emerge from the entire elections.”

A final phase will take place on 13 May.