Polls have closed in India’s first phase of mammoth general elections, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a second term.
The first phase covered an electorate of 142 million voters on Thursday across 20 states and federal territories, who will decide the fate of 91 candidates. Almost 900 million of India’s 1.3 billion people are eligible to vote.
The Election Commission said the voter turnout was more than 60 percent on Thursday.
It also said voters turned out in large numbers in an eastern district where Maoist rebels were blamed for a bomb attack on Tuesday, which killed a state legislator from Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and four security officials.
In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, a supporter of the ruling Telugu Desam Party died in a clash outside a polling booth.
Raziul Nasir, 53, an accountant at a construction company, said concerns about his children’s future would determine his vote. “All I want is that people who are spreading hatred should be defeated,” Nasir told Al Jazeera.
|Raziul Nasir said he wanted that “people who are spreading hatred should be defeated.” [Nadim Asrar/Al Jazeera]|
Naresh Kumar, a 43-year-old voter in Bishada village of Dadri in Gautam Buddha Nagar constituency, said he wanted the BJP to return. Bishada witnessed India’s first cow-related lynching in 2015 that caused an outcry.
“Modi has done a lot of work,” Kumar, who works for National Thermal Power Corporation in Dadri, told Al Jazeera.
Sachin Tyagi, a mobile phone shop owner from Uttar Pradesh, said Modi has “improved India’s global standing and taken revenge against the enemies of the country”.
“I am happy with Modi-ji but the employment situation could be improved,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Nadim Asrar, reporting from Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, said voters turned out slowly.
“There’s a slow but steady trickle of voters at a polling booth in a middle-class neighbourhood of Noida. Security personnel guard the gates of a community centre where the polling is being conducted.”
Eight constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh saw over 11 percent voting before 9am.
Shailendra Pratap Singh, Additional District Magistrate of Ghaziabad adjoining Noida, told Al Jazeera that voting was going on smoothly in the constituency.
“Generally there is brisk voting either in the morning or between 4 and 6 pm,” he said.
Two people were also killed on Tuesday in Indian-administered Kashmir, a Muslim majority region, prompting authorities to increase security even further.
Shops and schools were closed in Kashmir and roads mostly clear of traffic after separatists called a strike against the election.
Modi, 68, is the front-runner but he faces a tough challenge from Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress party, who has attempted to capitalise on the Modi government’s poor record on jobs and rural poverty.