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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 16:48 GMT
Voting ends in key India elections
Border guard watches voters in Uttar Pradesh
There were few serious incidents in Uttar Pradesh
Voting has ended in the third and final phase of state assembly elections in Manipur and Uttar Pradesh in India.


I think we'll be having repolls in quite a few polling stations

Manipur magistrate

In the north-eastern state of Manipur, where tribal tensions have led to direct rule from the federal government in Delhi, at least 10 people died in election violence.

There have already been allegations of vote-rigging, and electoral officials have said that another ballot may have to be held in up to 50 polling stations.

In contrast, the elections were largely peaceful in the politically influential state of Uttar Pradesh, where unprecedented security was put in place ahead of voting in 166 constituencies.

Counting takes place on Sunday, but exit polls suggest that no single party will win an absolute majority in either state, suggesting a damaging setback for the country's ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party.

Maoists and criminals

Security officials in Uttar Pradesh said they were relieved there had been few major incidents, given the number of candidates with criminal records.

Correspondents say the state has a history of criminals entering politics themselves instead of seeking indirect power or mediation through contact with political leaders.

Woman carried to vote
Nothing would stop this woman casting her vote

The BJP, the state's main opposition Samajwadi Party, and the Bahujan Samaj Party are the three major contenders in Uttar Pradesh - India's most populous and politically most prestigious state.

Reports said a bad result for the ruling BJP could lead to defections from the fragile coalition government in Delhi led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Although there were no major incidents of violence, state officials said a ruling party member was beaten to death by the supporters of rival political groups.

Manipur doubts

A BBC correspondent in Manipur says it is uncertain whether the elections there will succeed in restoring political stability.

Ten people - seven soldier and three civilians - were killed in two separate attacks by suspected militants according to the authorities in the state capital, Imphal.

Electoral officials also confirmed a number of allegations of vote-rigging, ranging from voter intimidation and clashes between rival tribal groups to the seizure of ballot boxes and polling booths.

Security forces (Photo Imphal Free Press)
The army has been deployed in some Manipur border areas for the first time

Thanmel Panmei, the district magistrate in Senapati - the district in Manipur most affected by violence and malpractice - said he was not happy with the way the voting had gone.

"I think we'll be having repolls in quite a few polling stations," he told the BBC.

Because of tribal tensions and pro-separatist militant movements, violence has dominated Manipur's political process for many years.

By-elections

Two other states, Punjab and Uttaranchal have already voted in elections, and several by-elections were also held across India.

In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, controversial politician Jayalalitha Jairam was contesting from Andipatti, in an election that could see her back as chief minister after being forced to step down over corruption charges.

And a former Indian prime minister, Deve Gowda, is trying to make a political comeback from the southern state of Karnataka.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jill McGivering
"Manipur has quite a long history of political violence"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | South Asia
India revokes Naga peace deal
27 Jul 01 | South Asia
Manipur on the boil
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