Voting has ended in the first stage of India’s general election.
In all, more than 700 million people are eligible to cast their ballot in this vote which will stretch over one month. Many will be doing so on transportable voting machines which will tour the country. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, some Muslims were uncertain who to vote for. Many among India’s Muslim minority have complained of discrimination and have simply not registered to vote. In the western state of Kerala, the country’s small Catholic minority hopes the election will safeguard India’s secular state. Two main parties are competing in this election: the ruling Congress-led coalition and the opposition alliance headed by the Hindu-nationalist BJP. However both will most likely need the support of a host of smaller and unpredictable regional parties to win. Hundreds of thousands of police officers have been deployed to try to protect voters, especially from the threat of Maoist rebels who oppose the ballot. On Thursday alone, around twenty people were killed in attacks against polling stations and soldiers. The result of the election will be known on May 16.