Millions have begun voting in the states of Mizoram and Chhattisgarh as a round of key state elections kick off in India.
They are among five states going to the polls between 7 and 30 November. Vote counting is due on 3 December.
These polls are seen as a precursor to the national elections next year.
Analysts say they are expected to offer some insights into how the governing and opposition parties will perform in the general election in 2024.
The other states voting this month include Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in northern India and Telangana in the south.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power only in Madhya Pradesh. The opposition Congress party rules Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
On Tuesday morning, voting began in the north-eastern state of Mizoram and 20 constituencies in the central state of Chhattisgarh.
This is the first election in the country’s north-eastern region after ethnic violence erupted in Manipur state in May. More than 200 people have been killed in the clashes.
Manipur which shares its border with Mizoram is ruled by the BJP. Approximately 12,000 people displaced by the violence have moved to Mizoram since May, government figures show.
In an interview to the BBC’s Jugal Purohit last month, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga criticised the BJP’s handling of the crisis and said he would not share stage with PM Modi during his election campaigns.
Mr Zoramthanga’s Mizo Nationalist Front (MNF) faces Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) and the Congress Party in the election as it seeks to come back to power.
In Chhattisgarh, the governing Congress party is up against the BJP. The state is one of only four states where the Congress is in power.
The party has announced a slew of welfare schemes for women, farmers and tribal communities in the state during its election campaign.
Twelve of the 20 seats going to polls in the state on Tuesday are located in the Bastar region where Maoist rebels hold sway. Thousands of paramilitary troops have been deployed to ensure security.
On Tuesday morning, a paramilitary soldier was injured in the state’s Sukma region in a blast allegedly triggered by the rebels, NDTV news channel reported.
Written by: Bukky Alabi
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