Millions voted across 14 states and union territories Thursday in the third round of parliamentary elections to pick 91 of the country's 543 MPs.
An estimated quarter of the 191 million electorate had voted by noon in five hours of balloting, with long queues of men and women seen right from the time the polling centres opened at 7 in the morning.
Voting picked up rapidly even in the few areas where it was initially dull. Officials at polling stations were kept busy checking identity cards of the voters and inking them.
Voter enthusiasm was high in both working class and middle class areas.
Electronic voting machines which broke down in a few places were quickly set right or replaced.
The Election Commission said the exercise all over was peaceful. In Delhi, a police officer told IANS: "All is under control."
In Bihar, however, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed when Maoists exploded a concealed land mine in Munger district when they were on their way to neighbouring Jamui where polling was on.
A total of 1,414 candidates are in the fray Thursday, the third round of staggered national election that began April 7 in the country's northeast.
Thursday's balloting covered all 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala, 10 each in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Odisha, nine in Madhya Pradesh, all seven seats in Delhi, six in Bihar, four in Jharkhand and one each in Chhattisgarh, Jammu, Chandigarh, Lakshwadeep as well as Andaman and Nicobar Island.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal voted in separate polling centres in the national capital. Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari voted in Nagpur.
After voting, a smiling Gandhi flashed her inked finger but did not speak to the media.
Congress leader Ajay Maken, who was with her, earlier claimed that voters were sure to reward the Congress-led UPA with another five-year term.
Kejriwal said after voting that he was confident the AAP would win all seven seats in Delhi where he was chief minister for 49 days until Feb 14.
BJP leader Harsh Vardhan was equally confident that the Bharatiya Janata Party was set to sweep most Lok Sabha seats in contention Thursday due to the "(Narendra) Modi wave".
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath hoped that voting percentage will keep improving with every round of the Lok Sabha election.
He added that Thursday's voting was "critical ... because some of the sensitive areas in the country are going to the polls".
In Gurgaon, abutting Delhi, long queues were seen even in what is known as New Gurgaon, dominated by high-rise condominiums and shopping malls.
Voters praised the "very organised" facilities, with senior citizens being given preference so that they did not have to stand in queues.
One voter who showed a flight ticket was allowed to jump the queue and vote.
Said Tishita Chopra, a housewife: "What impressed me were the excellent facilities and helpfulness of police and election personnel. Things were really working like clock-work.
People queued up at polling booths across Kerala Thursday to cast their vote for the state's 20 Lok Sabha constituencies.
The zeal to hit the voting button was evident across the state since Thursday morning as people turned up at the polling centres even before the start of polling time at 7 a.m. Read More
Impressive Voter Turnout in Ghaziabad
Voters today came out in large numbers to cast their franchise in Ghaziabad where around 35 per cent polling was recorded till 1 PM.
Long queues could be seen in most of the polling booths across the constituency that has around 22.64 lakh voters. Read More
Around 50 Percent Cast Vote in West UP
Brisk polling was today witnessed in politically sensitive Western Uttar Pradesh as 50.97 per cent voters cast their votes till 3 pm.
According to EC sources, Saharanpur witnessed 56.40 per cent polling in the first four hours, while 56.68 per cent voting was reported from Kairana, and 54.98 electorates exercised their franchise in Muzaffarnagar till 3 pm. Read More
One-third Electors Vote in Jharkhand
Around 36 percent of electors Thursday cast their ballot in the first six hours of polling for four Lok Sabha seats from Jharkhand, officials said.
Voting began in Koderma, Lohardaga, Palamu and Chatra constituencies at 7 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m. More
17 Percent Voter Turnout till 11 am in 10 LS Seats in Vidarbha
About 17 per cent polling was recorded till 11 AM in ten parliamentary constituencies across Naxal-hit Vidarbha region, where voting is underway in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra.
According to election authorities, polling picked up slowly after the initial hours and there was moderate voter turnout till 9 AM. Read More
Long Queues Seen in Many Booths in Maharashtra
An average of 10 percent of the electorate cast their votes within the first two hours, as polling started for the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra Thursday morning, officials said. More
Around 45 per cent Polling in Odisha till Afternoon
Polling has picked up for the 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats in Odisha with about 45 percent of the electorate casting their ballots till afternoon Thursday, an official said.
"We have recorded 42-45 percent polling till 1.45 p.m.," an official from the chief electoral officer's office told IANS. More
Bihar Balloting Picks up Amid Incidents of Violence
Nearly 32 percent of the electorate voted in the first six hours Thursday in Bihar's six Lok Sabha constituencies despite incidents of violence in the state.
"So far about 32 percent of the electorate has voted. The polling was slow in early hours, but later picked up fast," Additional Chief Electoral Officer R. Lakshaman said.
A little over 94 lakh voters are eligible to elect from among 80 candidates, including 10 women, who are in the fray in Maoists affected constituencies.
Two Central Reserve Police Force troopers were killed in the landmine blast in Munger district when they were on way to a polling station in neighbouring Jamui parliamentary constituency. More
Explosives Recovered in Bastar; 15 Percent Polling in Initial Hours
A huge haul of explosives, including 15 IEDs and three pressure bombs, were today recovered by security forces from separate places averting a massive strike in the Naxal-hit Bastar Parliamentary seat, where about 15 percent of the electorate cast their votes in the initial hours of polling. More
About 50 per cent Polling in Four LS Seats in Jharkhand
About 50 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till 3 PM in four Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand where Maoists exploded a series of landmines before voting began.
Polling was on in Palamau (SC), Chatra, Koderma and Lohardaga (rain) seats. Hours before polling, Maoists exploded a series of landmines near a police picket in Latehar under Chatra constituency and a brief gunbattle followed, but there was no casualty, Latehar SP Michael Raj said. More
A Third of Madhya Pradesh Votes
A third of the electorate in nine Lok Sabha constituencies in Madhya Pradesh had cast their votes by Thursday afternoon in an election that was largely peaceful, an official said.
An Election Commission official said that in the initial three hours, over 15 percent balloting took place and it climbed up to 36 percent by afternoon. More
Nearly 35 per cent polling in Haryana
Up to 35 percent of Haryana's nearly 1.61 crore electorate exercised their franchise during the first six hours of voting Thursday for the 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state, officials here said.
Long queues could be seen at a number of polling stations across Haryana.
Nearly 1.61 crore people, including over 73.8 lakh women, are eligible to vote in Haryana to decide the fate of 230 candidates, including 10 women candidates, who are contesting in the state's 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. Read More
A Third of Jammu Casts its Votes
Jammu, the only Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir which has both the international border and the Line of Control, Thursday began voting in the national election, officials said.
Around 7,000 polling staff, 150 companies of central security forces and 5,000 police personnel are on duty for Thursday's voting. Read More
Serpentine Queues as Delhi Sees Brisk Polling
Hundreds of thousands of Delhites thronged polling centres Thursday to elect seven Lok Sabha members in a high-voltage battle involving the BJP, the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party. Read More
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Balloting began Thursday for the lone Lok Sabha constituency in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, officials said. Read More
Polling began in India's smallest union territory Lakshadweep Thursday, officials said.
The group of 36 islands, of which 10 are uninhabited, Lakshadweep has an electorate of less than 50,000. A total of 43 polling booths have been set up. Read More