Security sweep as Indians cast votes

The fourth phase of parliamentary elections in India began today on a peaceful note amid high security.

The fourth phase of parliamentary elections in India began today on a peaceful note amid high security.

A total of 1,315 candidates are in the fray for 85 seats spread across eight states and the country’s capital New Delhi. Over 90 million people will cast their votes during the day.

This phase will decide the future of many prominent politicians including the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh. He is contesting Gaziabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

“The polling is reported to be peaceful with para-military personnel guarding the booths,” a top police official said.

Aerial patrolling is being conducted in rebel-affected areas and mounted police and security personnel are patrolling waterways in boats.

The violence-hit state of Jammu and Kashmir is voting in today’s phase and the National Conference’s leader Farooq Abdullah is standing from the state capital Srinagar. The state has been on high alert after a 50-hour strike and poll boycott calls by separatists.

Actor and BJP politician Shatrughan Sinha is contesting Patna in Bihar, while external affairs minister and the Congress Party’s Pranab Mukherjee is in the frame for Jangipur in West Bengal.

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief and railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav is fighting his seat in Patliputra, Bihar. The state is vulnerable to Maoist attacks and has faced attacks in the earlier phases.

Voting for 25 seats in Rajasthan, 10 in Haryana and seven in Delhi will be completed in this phase.

Polling for three seats in the state of Bihar, one in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Punjab, 18 in Uttar Pradesh and 17 in West Bengal is being held in this phase.

The first two phases on April 16 and 20 respectively were marred by the Maoist violence. At least 20 people were killed across the country.

The third phase held on April 30 was largely peaceful with the exception of a lone Maoist attack in the state of West Bengal.

Elections are being held in five phases for 543 seats over a month. The fifth and final phase will be held on Wednesday.

Votes will be counted on May 16.

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