A man gets his finger inked before casting his vote at a polling station during the fifth phase of general election in Howrah, India, on Monday. Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
India’s northern heartland began voting on Monday in the fifth phase of a staggered general election with Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoping his record on national security will win him a second five-year term.
More than 87 million people across seven states are eligible to vote on Monday.
The seven-phase election began on April 11. The last votes will be cast on May 19 and results will be declared by May 23.
Monday’s voting includes some of the most electorally important regions in the north, including Uttar Pradesh, the state with the most members of parliament.
Modi campaigned on his national security record, in particular his tough stand against rival Pakistan following a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group that killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in the Indian part of the Kashmir region in February.
Uttar Pradesh is also where Hindu nationalist groups have aggressively pushed for the building of a temple on the ruins of a 16th century mosque, in the city of Ayodhya, which has become a flashpoint in tension with minority Muslims.
"The main issues here are the temple, nationalism and the country’s economic development,” said Sharad Sharma, an Ayodhya-based spokesman for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or the World Hindu Council, a group linked to Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Conventional wisdom has it that the current polls will not produce a clear-cut result as in 2014. The reason is that there is no definite trend for or against any party at the national level although such tendencies are there in some states such as Tamil Nadu.
As India goes through a general election, the outcome of which may determine its future as a secular democracy, unseemly developments have cast long shadows over two constitutional institutions.
In his first public rally after announcement of dates for the eight-phase Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday went full-throttle against the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal.
A video shared on social media showed flood water gushing from an apartment building in Ankara along with furniture.
According to sources, many labourers were working on the bridge when one of its portions collapsed, and several of them are feared dead. However, the district administration of Bhagalpur, or Bihar government, has not provided any figures on casualties yet.
An average of 30 people a day were killed by firearms in S.Africa in the first three months of this year, according to official crime statistics. During the same three months, police recorded more than 4,000 cases of illegal possession of guns.
Sheikh Sultan praised the efforts of the multi-sectoral Unesco Regional Office and their continuous initiatives to support children in the Arab world, stressing that Sharjah always seeks to enhance cooperation in this field.