Voting begins for third phase of Indian elections (Lead)

New Delhi, April 30 (Inditop) Balloting for round three of the staggered Lok Sabha elections got underway thursday morning in 107 constituencies in nine states and two union territories.

The exercise involving an electorate of over 144 million and 1,567 candidates concludes at 5 p.m.

The Election Commission has deployed 200,000 electronic voting machines at 165,000 polling stations and 600,000 election officials for the polling.

The leading contestants include Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Other notable candidates are former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), National Democratic Alliance (NDA) convenor Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Dasgupta, and BJP leader and former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh.

West Bengal votes in the first of its two-phase election, while balloting will conclude in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Bihar will have one more phase to go.

All 26 seats in Gujarat will see voting Thursday.

In Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest seats (80), and Jammu and Kashmir, polling would continue through the rest of the two rounds on May 7 and May 13.

The month long balloting began April 16 and the millions of votes will be counted May 13. Political pundits expect another hung parliament — and another coalition government.