Millions vote in Phase IV of Indian polls

NEW DELHI: India’s marathon elections entered the home straight today, with millions voting in a fourth round of polling that saw the two main parties going head to head in a number of key swing states.

Thursday’s voting encompassed New Delhi and the neighbouring states of Rajasthan and Haryana, as well as Communist-run West Bengal where sporadic clashes and attacks on polling stations left three people dead.

In the 2004 general elections, the ruling Congress party dominated in Delhi and Haryana, while its main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, took most the seats in Rajasthan.

A significant swing in any of these races could have a major impact, with many observers predicting that just a handful of seats could separate the two parties once all the votes are counted.

With the finish line now in sight and no clear winner expected, attention has already turned to the political horse-trading to come when parties scramble for coalition partners to govern India’s 1.1 billion people.

Neither the Congress-led alliance nor the bloc headed by the BJP is seen as capable of securing an absolute majority.