Millions of Indians have voted in the second of five stages of the world's largest parliamentary election, despite record heat and attempts by communist rebels to mar the poll.
Thursday's voting took place in 12 states across the country. Election officials say an estimated 55 percent of 200 million eligible voters turned up at polling areas. Among the voters was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who cast his ballot in the city of Gauhati in the northeastern state of Assam. He expressed confidence that his Congress Party will return to power.
India's next three rounds of voting will take place on April 30th, May seventh and May 13th.The two main parties -- the ruling Congress Party and the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party -- are not expected to win enough of the 543 seats in the lower house of parliament to govern without forming a coalition. Both have campaigned on promises of improving the lives of India's poor.
Communist rebels, known as Naxalites, attacked a jeep carrying election officials in Jharkhand Thursday, injuring two people. They also bombed a railway station in the same state.At least 19 people were killed in rebel violence during the first phase of the election last week.Some 714-million people are eligible to vote in the election, which is staggered for logistical and security reasons.
Voting is scheduled to end on May 13th, and the results are to be announced three days later.