WORLD India cancels voting in southern area

WORLD

India cancels voting in southern area

AFP

10:56, April 18, 2019

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A polling officer prepares dinner inside a classroom after setting up a polling booth ahead of the first phase of the general election in Majuli, a large river island on the Brahmaputra river, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, India April 10, 2019. (Photo: China Daily)

Indian election authorities have canceled voting in a southern region of the country after seizing more than 110 million rupees ($1.5 million) they believe were meant to influence the outcome, officials said on Wednesday.

It is the first time a ballot has been canceled in a national election over attempted vote-buying, officials said.

The decision comes as Indians vote in a mammoth national election being held over five weeks, the next phase of which begins on Thursday.

But voters in the Vellore constituency in coastal Tamil Nadu state will not be going to the polls as scheduled because the Election Commission of India ruled there were fears of a "systematic design to influence voters".

The ruling came after authorities seized more than 110 million rupees from a candidate in the run-up to the vote.

The commission said late on Tuesday that the environment in Vellore was no longer conducive to "free and ethical" elections.

No fresh date has been announced for polling in the constituency.

Nearly 100 constituencies in 13 states go to the polls Thursday in the second round of the seven-phase election that began on April 11.

Almost 900 million voters are eligible to cast their votes to elect 543 members to the lower house of the parliament, with results expected on May 23.

Attempts to secure votes in return for cash, liquor, electronic gadgets and even goats have been reported across Tamil Nadu in the run-up to voting.

More than 1.3 billion rupees and one ton of gold worth 3 billion rupees have been seized in the state since the poll dates were announced on March 10.

Elsewhere in the country, polls have been delayed by five days in parts of the northeastern state of Tripura over security fears.

Polls will be held there on April 23 instead of Thursday.

And in the country's east, Bangladeshi star actor Ferdous Ahmed has been forced to leave India after he was discovered campaigning for a candidate from the opposition Congress party, officials at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata said.

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