Top politicians have cast their votes in Delhi in the sixth phase of the election marathon A volunteer takes selfie with Indian National Congress (INC) party leaders Sonia Gandhi (C) and her son Rahul Gandhi (R) as they leave after casting their ballots to vote at a polling station in New Delhi on May 25, 2024 © Arun SANKAR / AFP

The sixth phase of voting in India’s seven-phase election is underway on Saturday in 58 parliamentary seats, including all seven in the nation’s capital, New Delhi.

Indian President Droupadi Murmu and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar were among the early voters in the nation’s capital. “We want people to vote in huge numbers as the country is making a very big decision,” Jaishankar told the media after casting his ballot.

The parliamentary election, which will determine the next government, has been plagued by low voter turnout amid a heatwave and record temperatures in several parts of the country. Overall, around 970 million Indians are eligible to vote.

Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, the leaders of the Indian National Congress, the biggest opposition party in India, also cast their votes in the capital on Saturday. “Mother and I contributed to this great festival of democracy by casting our votes,” Rahul wrote in a caption to a selfie of the two on X (formerly Twitter).

In the post, he also reiterated the Congress’ pre-election promises, including jobs for 300,000 young people and a monthly payment of 8,500 India rupees ($102) for poor women, and ridding farmers of debt. Gandhi is running from two constituencies: Wayanad in Kerala and his family’s fortress of Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was released on bail earlier this month to campaign in the election, was another prominent leader who voted in the capital. “I voted against dictatorship, unemployment and inflation,” Kejriwal said after casting his vote.

Kejriwal is the co-founder and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, which is in power in the Delhi region (the Indian capital has its own legislative assembly and elected government). The politician was arrested in April in an alleged corruption case linked to liquor tax policy. On May 10, the Supreme Court granted Kejriwal temporary bail. He will have to surrender and return to jail on June 2, the day after the six-week election wraps up.

Apart from the nation’s capital, polling is also being held in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Haryana.

Meanwhile, turmoil has once again been reported in West Bengal, which is ruled by the All Indian Trinamool Congress party. The ruling party’s workers allegedly blocked the car of Agnimitra Paul, a BJP candidate, as she proceeded to vote in the Medinipur constituency, causing clashes, according to Indian media.

The seventh and final round of voting will be held on June 1, and the results declared on June 4.

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