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Indians head to the polls in first major day of general election

Voters have been going to the polls in the third phase of India’s general election. Results of the voting for the lower house of parliament won’t be known for more than a month.

The polls opened in a total of 91 constituencies in the capital, New Delhi and 11 of India's regional states early on Thursday as Indian voters cast their ballots in the first major day of voting to elect the 543 parliamentarians of the country's Lok Sabha lower house.

Voting was disrupted in part of India's eastern Bihar state on Thursday, after suspected Maoist rebels blew up a jeep carrying paramilitary soldiers, killing two and wounding three others.

The Associated Press reported that the blast in Munger district, which occurred before the polls were scheduled to open, led officials to suspend voting in a dozen districts, but that voting was going ahead in other parts of Bihar.

Challenge fom anti-corruption party

Recent opinion survey indicate that the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, has a good chance of ending the Congress party's decade in office. Rahul Gandhi led Congress into this election, with the ruling party hoping that he succeed the 81-year-old Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has ruled out serving another term in office.

Watch video 02:51

Indian villagers prepare to vote

Both mainstream parties are being challenged by the anti-corruption Aam Admi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, which won 28 of the 70 seats during a regional assembly election in New Delhi back in December.

More than 800 million people are eligible to vote in the national elections, which are being run in nine phases, with the last day of voting to be held on May 12 and results to be announced four days later.

pfd/ipj (AP, AFP, dpa)

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