Polls open in India

Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel patrol a road in Jehanabad in eastern Indian, as the country goes to the polls.

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 01:39:33 GMT
India's general election starts while neither of the two main parties is deemed capable of securing an absolute majority in the five-stage polls.

Reports say that there has been little in the campaign for Thursday's election to unite a nation of nearly 1.2 billion people accustomed to divisions.

Neither the incumbent Congress nor the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to come up with a splintered result and government by an unsteady coalition which would struggle to see out a full term.

Consequently, the result will have to depend on the support of smaller parties to form a coalition government.

More than 700 million people are eligible to vote around the country, while around 143 million registered for the first phase alone which would take in large swathes of northern and eastern India, including insurgency hit tribal areas.

The Indian government has deployed more than two million security personnel around the country over the five phases of balloting that end on May 13 to ensure safety.

Final results are to be announced on May 16.