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India Kicks Off 3rd Round of National Elections  བོད་སྐད།


Another round of India's national elections began Thursday, with voting in key areas including Muslim-dominated areas of Kashmir and the main commercial city, Mumbai.

Nearly 145 million people are eligible to vote in the third round of the country's five-round elections.

Separatists in Kashmir have called for a boycott of the vote to protest New Delhi's rule in the disputed territory. Police tightened security in the main city of Srinagar following violent clashes with demonstrators earlier this week.

Voting is also underway in Mumbai, just months after an Islamist terrorist attack on the city left 166 people dead, and increased tensions with Pakistan.

A bomb blast blamed on communist rebels injured at least one policeman (in Purulia district) in West Bengal state. The rebels, known as Naxalites, staged violent attacks during the first two rounds of voting in an effort to disrupt the election.

Nine states and two territories are voting Thursday, with 1,567 candidates vying for 107 seats in the lower house of parliament.

A total of 714-million people are eligible to vote in India -- making this election the world's largest exercise in democracy. The polls are staggered for logistical and security reasons. Voting is scheduled to end on May 13 and the results are to be announced on May 16. A new parliament has to be in place by June second.

The two main parties -- the ruling Congress Party and the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party -- are not expected to win enough seats to govern without forming a coalition. Both have campaigned on promises of improving the lives of India's poor.

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