Attacks and floods on agenda as Mumbai votes

Terrorism was on the top of the agenda today as the people of Mumbai voted in India's monthlong elections under the shadow of the deadly attack that rocked the country's financial capital.

The vote was the third of five phases of polling that ends on 13 May, and results are expected on 16 May. With more than 700 million voters, India normally holds staggered elections for logistical and security reasons.

Among the regions voting in this round was Mumbai, bringing terrorism to the head of the national debate after an election campaign dominated by local issues, caste, and religion.

Sonia Gandhi, the head of the governing Congress party, sought to defend her party's handling of the attack and a string of others that have hit India in the five years of Congress rule.

"We don't require any certificate from anyone to prove our stand against terrorism," she told an election rally in New Delhi. Indian law bars politicians from campaigning in voting areas on the day of the polls.

Gandhi said the main opposition, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, should not criticize Congress for being soft on terror, recalling the BJP's decision to negotiate with hijackers of an Indian airliner during their earlier stint in power and release 3 senior militants to secure the release of the hostages.

Some voters, however, said they woul hold the government accountable for the attack.

"We need a change as the present government has failed to provide protection to the people," said Sachin Dhangi, a 35-year-old salesman.

For others, India's long-standing battle with poverty remained their top concern.

Sameer Singade, 32, a resident of one of Mumbai's sprawling slums — which gained prominence in the Oscar winning "Slumdog Millionaire — said he had voted for a new party formed by a firebrand local politician Raj Thackeray "in the hope that it will do something for the poor people."

Thackeray has made his name as a xenophobic, rabble-rousing politician championing the Marathi language and the rights of residents of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.

The fragmented debate in this country of nearly 1.2 billion people has ensured that neither of the two national parties has been able to dominate the elections.

Polls indicate neither Congress, nor the main opposition BJP, will win enough seats in the 543-seat lower house of Parliament to rule on their own.

That means the election will likely leave India with a shaky coalition government cobbled together from across the political spectrum — a situation giving the next prime minister little time to deal with a growing number of challenges like the economic crisis.

Local issues remained key in other areas. In northern Bihar state, the voting was dominated by the devastating floods that left millions homeless in October when the Kosi river burst its banks and shifted course.

"The Kosi flood has washed away divides on caste and community lines," said Gajendra Yadav, 38, a voter in Madhepura, one of the districts worst hit by the floods. "Everyone, Hindu or Muslim want a solution to the Kosi floods."

The first two rounds of voting were marred by violence from communist rebels. However, this was not expected to be a factor Thursday as most of the insurgency-affected areas have completed their voting.

There was heavy security in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where separatists urged residents to boycott elections and called for a general strike and demonstrations.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in mainly Muslim Kashmir, where most people favor independence from India or a merger with Pakistan. Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, who both claim the region in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam