In Summary
  • More than 157 million of India's 900 million voters are eligible to cast ballots on the second of seven days of voting in the world's biggest election.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put national security at the centre of his campaign to secure a second five-year term.
  • His tough challenger Rahul Gandhi has gone on a relentless attack against the economic record of the PM's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
  • There have been repeated allegations of vote-buying in the run-up to the poll, and voting in a constituency in the southern state of Tamil Nadu has been cancelled altogether after $1.5 million in cash was seized by authorities.

NEW DELHI,

Voters across India cast ballots Thursday in the second round of the country's mega elections amid more deadly violence including a poll worker gunned down by Maoist rebels.

More than 157 million of India's 900 million voters are eligible to cast ballots on the second of seven days of voting in the world's biggest election.

Authorities ramped up security again, but in the eastern state of Odisha, a female poll worker was gunned down by suspected Maoist rebels hours before voting started, media reported.

In central Chhattisgarh state, security forces raided a Maoist jungle camp in Dantewada district, killing two insurgents allegedly involved in an attack on an election convoy just before the first round of voting which left five dead, police said.

In Kashmir, tens of thousands of troops, paramilitaries and police were deployed as the main city of Srinagar was one of 95 constituencies across India to take part in voting.

Kashmir surged into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaign after a February suicide bomb attack that killed 40 paramilitaries and brought India and Pakistan -- which both control part of divided Kashmir -- to the brink of war.

GHOST TOWN

Srinagar was a virtual ghost town with polling stations almost deserted.

By mid-morning, just a handful of voters had turned up at a polling station in a local school, where more than a dozen armed police in bullet-proof vests were posted.

"I hope whoever is elected this time will help get my son a job," one male voter told AFP, declining to give his name.

Outside another station, a 55-year-old man said he would not vote. "Our leaders have called for the boycott of all Indian elections," he said.

But in many constituencies across India, men and women lined up from the early morning.

More than 157 million of the 900 million electorate were eligible to cast ballots on the second of seven days of voting.

India elections

Indian women line up to cast their votes at a polling station during the second phase of the mammoth Indian elections in Patidarang village, some 60km from Guwahati, the capital city of India’s state of Assam, on April 18, 2019. PHOTO | BIJU BORO | AFP

MODI CAMPAIGN

Mr Modi has put national security at the centre of his campaign to secure a second five-year term.

While seen as the favourite, he faces an increasingly tough challenge from opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi.

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