VIDEO: Violence Flares Up at Polling Booths in Southern India
Violent clashes erupted in more than one location on on Thursday, April 11 during the first phase of a mammoth general election underway in India. Guntur and Puthalapattu constituencies in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state saw supporters and party workers of different regional parties manhandling each other. Polling booths were vandalized and voting machines were hurled on the floor in Guntur, while security personnel resorted to baton charges to control the crowds in Puthalapattu. Two people have been killed, local media reported.
India began the mammoth task of choosing its next government as voters lined up at polling booths stretching from the violence-wracked region of Kashmir in the north to eastern and central states. In an election that has been billed as a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is widely expected to emerge as the single largest party, but fall short of the commanding majority it won in 2014.
Modi's main challenger is Rahul Gandhi, the head of the opposition Congress Party whose hope for a surge in support rests on his promise of tackling poverty. More than 140 million out of the country's 900 million voters were eligible to cast ballots in Thursday's contest for 91 out of 543 parliamentary constituencies.