Page last updated at 01:33 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 02:33 UK
Final phase in Indian election

Kashmiri women voters outside a polling station in Srinagar on 7 May 2009

TEXT COMMENTARY (all posts Indian standard time, GMT+5.5)

By Jude Sheerin

Millions of Indians have voted in the penultimate stage of India's jumbo general election, despite sporadic violence and broiling heat. We followed the latest round of the world's biggest election with news, blogs, your comments and insights from BBC correspondents.

1725 We'll be back next week on 16 May for what promises to be a knife-edge climax to India's mammoth poll-of-polls, with a bandwidth-busting live event; we hope you can join us then.

1707 Voting is over in the fourth phase of India's mega-election, with one stage left next week. Nearly 95 million people were eligible to vote today but it looks like as few as a third of electors in some areas took the trouble to do so.

1700 Polls close.

Ram Dutt Tripathi, Lucknow
The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow says: Polling picked up in the afternoon when officials said 38.5% had voted. They expected many more to turn up later with cooler weather. So far, the worst turnout was in Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, which only registered 35%.

1626 The other Gandhi, Varun, has voted. The son of Sanjay Gandhi (ex-PM Indira Gandhi's younger son and heir apparent before he died in a plane crash), he was jailed in March for a fortnight for allegedly making derogatory comments against Muslims at a rally. He is a BJP candidate in Uttar Pradesh.

Jyotsna Singh
The BBC'S Jyotsna Singh in Delhi says: Few voters are around, no queues at any polling stations we saw. Turnout is as low as 25% in some centres. Polling agents said they were disappointed. One said Delhi voters had election fatigue after assembly polls barely four months ago.

Villagers in Haryana boycott the polls
Villagers in Haryana boycott the polls in protest at a lack of basic services

nadeeshr in Delhi tweets: Finally voted at 3pm! The cops also seemed lazy and sleepy. No one checked me and families were walking in with kids and all.

Asit Jolly
The BBC's Asit Jolly in Punjab says: More clashes between Akali Dal and Congress supporters reported in Sangrur. And in Bathinda, police arrested the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate for allegedly carrying a loaded revolver into a poll booth. He was detained with the gun and 18 bullets, police said.

knayam in Delhi tweets: 1 hour to go for voting Delhi. Wake up before you are forced to be silent for next 5 years. Let's make one final push.

e-mail sent in by reader
Abhishek from Dehradun e-mails: In order to increase voting, I think government should provide some sort of tax benefits to people who vote. Have your say

The BBC's Amarnath Tewary in Bihar says: After eight hours, turnout in the three Bihar constituencies at stake today was low with officials putting it at only 30%. Patna's roads are almost deserted, with only cycle rickshaw pullers and cattle braving the sweltering summer heat.

Subir Bhaumik
The BBC's Subir Bhaumik, in Uluberia, West Bengal, says: Polling was very brisk after lunch. One voter said political change should happen much as seasons change. But others believe the communists have done enough to stay in power.

Geeta Pandey
1540 The BBC's Geeta Pandey says: If Congress Party's estranged allies - the communists - win big, will it then ditch their candidate for PM, the incumbent Manmohan Singh? Many here think yes. Some suggest the 76-year-old PM could then use his age and weak heart as an excuse to make an honourable exit.

1523 If you've just joined us, India's gargantuan election has rumbled on to stage four, with one round left. There has been sporadic violence from Indian-administered Kashmir to West Bengal and concerns over low voter turnout in the world's largest democracy.

Karishma Vaswani finds many West Bengal voters fed up with the communists

Ram Dutt Tripathi, Lucknow
The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow says: Election officials say only 29% people turned up to vote in the first six hours of voting. Grassroots political workers are trying to entice more people out.

e-mail sent in by reader
One e-mailer from Pune writes: No party has shown any great virtue. Every party has played it dirty with India and the Indians. Are all these people really honest? Have your say

sroy_sroy tweets: Voting should be made mandatory in India. You lose 1 month's salary if you don't vote.

Damian Grammaticas
1439 The BBC's Damian Grammaticas says: Truckloads of police are patrolling Old Delhi, deemed a potential trouble-spot. I saw armed police chase off a group of jobless men near a polling station. There are guards at every poll booth. Slowly more voters are coming, but still the turnout doesn't look great.

Sanjeev Srivastava
1429 India Editor Sanjeev Srivastava says: Turnout has been relatively low in all phases of these polls so far and today is no exception. It's because there's no single national issue to energise voters. The two prime ministerial candidates - Manmohan Singh and LK Advani - obviously don't excite the voters.

Narayan Bareth
1412 The BBC's Narayan Bareth in Jaipur reports: One man was killed and another injured when police opened fire in Sawai Madhopur constituency, Rajasthan, after a mob attacked a poll booth, where voting has now been suspended. Elsewhere, two groups have clashed in Dausa constituency.

e-mail sent in by reader
Jacob George from Chengannur e-mails: Basically I am a suporter of the leftist alliance but in order to tackle the BJP and its allies at the national level, the UPA would be the best option. Have your say

Asit Jolly
The BBC's Asit Jolly in Haryana says: Three large villages are boycotting today's election. Politicians have failed to bring even basic amenities like electricity and water to their homes and therefore do not deserve their vote, say the villagers of Jhanjkalan, Jhanjkhurd and Badodi.

Chris Morris
The BBC's Chris Morris in Srinagar says: Back in the Old City at two polling stations I visited earlier - and still not a single voter has cast a ballot. Election officials are outnumbered by heavily armed policemen, and they're all looking rather bored. The shops remain shut and a group of young men are playing cricket.

Kashmiri voters in Srinagar on 7 May 2009

vadakkemuri tweets: Democracy in all its grandeur. Results of General Elections is sure gonna be really interesting this time around.

e-mail sent in by reader
Antonio from Kochi e-mails: I want a government with backbone that is willing to retrieve the slush money hoarded away in tax havens. Have your say

Geeta Pandey
The BBC's Geeta Pandey says: Uttar Pradesh's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), led by Dalit Chief Minister Mayawati, is fielding 39 millionaire candidates. Ms Mayawati says her party represents the poor, but the "queen of have-nots" seems to have all the rich men queuing up to join her party.

1303 Reports of gunfire in Nandigarn, West Bengal state, and clashes between supporters of the rival parties. According to Times Now channel, one Trinamul Congress Party supporter is dead and two Communist Party activists injured. Carmaker Tata recently moved its Nano plant from Nandigram to Gujarat after protests by Trinamul.

Asit Jolly
The BBC's Asit Jolly in Haryana says: In the furiously contested Bhiwani-Mahendragarh constituency, police are contemplating action against a TV channel which, they say, wrongly reported a fight between three auto-rickshaw drivers as a clash between political groups.

Indian paramilitary soldiers chase Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar on 7 May 2009
The day has been mainly calm despite protests in Indian-administered Kashmir

Ram Dutt Tripathi, Lucknow
The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow says: Farmer's son Mulayam Yadav (see below) has transformed his family into political royalty in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. Yadav has been out of office since 2007 when his arch rival, the Dalit leader Mayawati, dethroned him.

1226 Ex-chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Yadav has been pictured on TV rowing with election officials who reportedly requested he leave all but one of his eight commando bodyguards outside the polling station.

1216 The CNN-Ibn channel reports Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla's name was deleted from the voter's list in Delhi as he had changed his address. But he still managed to vote - a privilege not extended to other voters whose names did not figure on the list.

Mulayam Yadav (R)
Uttar Pradesh bigwig Mulayam Yadav (R) was upset (see entry from 12:26)

Geeta Pandey
The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says: The month-long polls don't faze the Indian media, which is providing wall-to-wall coverage. Although there's another voting day left, journalists are already asking questions about who will sup with whom once the votes have been counted.

Soutik Biswas
The BBC's Soutik Biswas in Howrah, a suburb of Calcutta, says: Polling is fairly heavy in this area, which has been a communist stronghold. Once a thriving industrial belt, Howrah is now dotted with shuttered engineering plants and decaying jute mills. Voters here tell me that joblessness remains high.

Asit Jolly
The BBC's Asit Jolly in Punjab says: There's been a shooting in Gursar Sainewala village at Bathinda constituency, where one man was injured. Curiously, both the ruling Akali Dal and Congress party said the victim was their worker.

nixxin exhorts other Delhi residentsi: Please SMS your friends, family and colleagues in Delhi to go and vote. Make urban India count.

Chris Morris
The BBC's Chris Morris in Srinagar says: A lot more activity at a polling station on the outskirts of the city. About 20% have voted. But a policeman tells me some of the people are washing the ink off their finger and trying to vote twice. Not quite sure why he has not done more to stop them!

Damian Grammaticas finds that Old Delhi is quiet on polling day

1148 More flabbergasting facts from this mind-bending election: 714 million registered voters, 1.3m electronic voting machines, 829,000 polling stations. Sounds like the seventh circle of hell for the poll bean counters who have to tally up the results by 16 May. No pressure then. New parliament due to sit by 2 June.

mudittuli tweets from Delhi: voted for BJP & now at the workplace, I don't like the idea of a day off on a polling day.

1125 Leader of the regional Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has voted in Mainpuri constituency, where he is also the candidate. His party won 39 seats in the last elections and although pollsters say he is unlikely to retain that number, he is still expected to play some role in the next government.

An elderly voter is carried while voting in Delhi on 7 May 2009
Determined to have her say, this woman was carried to the polling booth

1111 Among some of the colourful independent candidates running are Delhi's only female auto-rickshaw driver, a Jodhpur magician who filed his nomination papers dressed as dacoit (armed robber) while brandishing a toy gun and a dancer from Gandhinagar. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has lambasted such candidates as "spoilers".

e-mail sent in by reader
Tahan from Vancouver e-mails: I truly hope that Congress is re-elected. The BJP is not an option for India. They will take the country back a few decades. Have your say

1055 Talk about sibling rivalry. Among the opponents of Indian-administered Kashmir's former chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, is his own sister. After voting in Srinagar, he said: "People will vote. I want to tell the separatists these tactics will not change the course of Kashmir or the nation. Things cannot be solved by brickbats, but through democratic means."

Asit Jolly
1047 The BBC's Asit Jolly in Haryana state says: Police in the hotly-contested seat of Bathinda in Punjab, have registered a case against Congress legislator Mangatrai Bansal and several of his supporters for "attempted murder". But Mr Bansal denies the charges and says they are politically motivated.

e-mail sent in by reader
Senthil from Gurgaon e-mails: I don't believe the candidates have paid the tax they should have, considering how wealthy they are. Hence, I am voting with dissatisfaction. Have your say

Sharsanj tweets this question: India elections - remove corrupt/criminal politicians from elections - most of the people will come out and vote. What say you?

The BBC's Amarnath Tewary in Bihar says: At certain places in Patliputra and Nalanda, people are boycotting the poll because of defective voting machines.

Sonia Ghandi votes on 7 May 2009

1032 I spoke too soon. In Punjab voting has just been suspended in Ferozepur constituency after a young Congress supporter was shot dead in the village of Ittanwali by political rivals allegedly belonging to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal party. Police said the victim got into a fight over ownership of a mobile phone.

1026 Thus far, election day has been relatively smooth-running, something reflected at the Mumbai stock exchange, where Indian shares rose more than 1% in early trading on Thursday.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder says: Political haggling has already begun, with Congress trying to woo back the communists, who withdrew support from the ruling coalition last year in protest at India's signing of a nuclear pact with the US.

0954 The BBC's Geeta Pandey says: Will the residents of Delhi come out to vote? That's the question giving politicians the jitters. Delhi has seen abysmally low voting in the past so the authorities have carried out a huge get-out-the-vote media campaign.

Niyukti tweets from Patna in Bihar: Two [media] van parked on either side of Lalu's [charismatic Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) party president Laloo Prasad Yadav] main gate His winnability may be in doubt , no dbts whtsvr abt his news worthiness

0948 Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi has just voted at a polling centre in New Delhi constituency. She arrived accompanied by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. Afterwards Mrs Gandhi smiled and showed the indelible ink mark on her index finger, before leaving without saying anything.

Damian Grammaticas
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Delhi says: Usually the narrow, winding streets of the old city are packed with rickshaws, carts and porters. But the alleys were virtually empty as polling day is a holiday. And in voting stations we visited, just 3-5% of people had turned out in the first hour or two.

A voter on the fringe of Calcutta on 7 May 2009
0934 The BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi says: Ex-Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam said after voting Indians must elect good MPs to last parliament a full five-year term. Perhaps he's worried an unstable coalition may not last the distance, meaning early elections - a mammoth exercise no-one really wants to repeat too soon.

The BBC's Amarnath Tewary in Patna, Bihar, says: I just cast my vote alongside mostly women and elderly, queuing to cast their ballot before the summer heat picks up. Two Bollywood stars Shatrughan Sinha and Shekhar Suman are in the running from two main parties, BJP and Congress.

0925 As noted below, polling has not all gone smoothly in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir. But our man in the Ganderbal area there says the atmosphere is almost festive. Voting is also said to be very brisk, with lots of women casting their ballot.

0924 The Congress Party has reigned over spectacular economic growth, but has seen that hit by the global economic crisis. It is also accused of a botched handling of November's Mumbai militant attacks. But Hindu nationalist BJP seems disunited and it has been accused of stoking tensions between India's Hindu majority and large Muslim minority.

0923 India's Times Now TV reports a petrol bomb has been hurled at a polling centre in the Lal Chowk area of Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir. They say stones have also been pelted at some centres. Several Kashmiri separatist groups have called for an election boycott in the area.

Asit Jolly
The BBC's Asit Jolly in Punjab: Voting is well under way in the key constituency of Bathinda where the incumbent chief minister's daughter-in-law, Harsimrat Kaur, is the Akali Dal party candidate against Congress's Raninder Singh, son of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Policeman on election duty in Delhi on 7 May 2009

0856 "What is a Form 49(O)?" I hear you ask dear reader (see Tweet below). It's an official slip available in poling booths which means the voter doesn't favour any of the candidates. Civil liberties groups want a button on electronic voting machines for the option, but officials are yet to take a decision.

gaganratra tweets from Delhi: I was the first to vote at my polling booth. Go out and vote, if no good candidate to choose, ask for form 490

Jyotsna Singh
The BBC's Jyotsna Singh in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, says: In this prosperous Delhi suburb, voting is brisk. One man, Col Rakesh Agnihotri, complained of delays because the voting machine was broke. Another voter, Usha Gaur, did not know how to use the machine. She said polling staff were very unhelpful.

0836 The main battle is between the ruling Congress coalition and Hindu nationalist BJP bloc, vying for the glittering prize of governing 1.1 billion people. But with no clear winner in sight on this final furlong, some serious political horse-trading seems likely.

soumyadipc tweets from Delhi: Me no Pappu. Was the second person to cast vote at my booth. The last time I voted was a decade ago.

0830 Maoist guerrilla violence marred the first phase of voting last month. But so far, so peaceful on India's Super Thursday.

Chris Morris
The BBC's Chris Morris in Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir, says: The streets are deserted thanks to a shutdown called by separatists and a curfew imposed in parts of the city by the security forces. Earlier in the week local papers were complaining about traffic jams. Not today.

The BBC's Amarnath Tewary in Patna, Bihar, says: To entice voters, some of the restaurants and shops here have offered discounts of 10% to 20%. All those who show the ink mark of voting on their fingers can get money off.

debmalyasinha tweets: Put my first ever vote for the largest democracy in the World, My Country, My India... :)

0800 For anyone in former colonial power Britain perhaps concerned that their MPs may not be value for money, I furnish you with a striking fact: India, about 15 times the size of Britain, has just 543 parliamentary seats, while the UK has 646. Go figure.

Villagers wait to vote at Kashtala in Khejuri, south-west of Calcutta, on 7 May 2009
The BBC's Amarnath Tewary in Patna, Bihar, says: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is to take a train to Bakhtiyarpur in Nalanda to vote. He'll then lunch at his ancestral home with his family. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is contesting Patliputra seat, will also vote.

Sanjeev Srivastava
BBC India Editor Sanjeev Srivastava in Delhi says: Sixty people have voted in the first 30 minutes of polling at the Sarvodaya School in Delhi's posh Jor Bagh area. Most of them are elderly people who have just come from their morning walk in the nearby Lodhi Gardens.

0740 India's NDTV shows pictures of Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and husband Robert Vadra arriving at a polling centre in Delhi to cast their votes. "I hope Delhi will vote for a strong prime minister," she says.

Geeta Pandey
The BBC's Geeta Pandey says: Among the heavyweight politicians whose fate will be decided today are India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Railway Minister Laloo Yadav. Leader of the regional Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav also faces the voters' verdict today.

Shadez tweets: people, get yer bums off the bed and go to vote.

Subir Bhaumik
0730 The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says: Long queues before polling booths opened across West Bengal. Huge security forces presence. Last night, five Congress and Marxist supporters were seriously wounded in Murshidabad district, when bombs and guns were freely used.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder says: Early morning joggers out in force in Delhi's upscale suburb of Gurgaon. Many IT workers and bankers haven't even registered to vote. But the villagers who live just outside and who've helped build Delhi's steel and glass office blocks are queuinq up outside polling stations.

Altaf Hussain
The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says: I am outside a school in Srinagar. Fifteen candidates are fighting this seat. Polling agents for the two main regional parties - National Conference and People's Democratic Party - are here. But there are no voters at all. About a dozen policemen guard the centre.

0710 In the latest phase of this mind-bogglingly vast exercise, India's election juggernaut is hurtling through the capital, Delhi, and seven states: Bihar, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

e-mail sent in by reader
Kavita Malhotra from Delhi e-mails: People in our area don't want to vote this time. They don't believe in either candidate. So, what should we vote for? Have your say

0700 The first polling stations have just opened on India's Super Thursday, the last-but-one phase of its marathon election battle. We'll be spooling out oodles of colourful commentary and images of all the action from the sub-continent's big day on this live page.


Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific