NEW DELHI, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Heavy turnouts were seen in the voting in the first phase of India's general election Monday as over 80 percent of the electorate in the small northeast state of Tripura cast their votes for one seat in the Lok Sabha or Lower House of parliament, while 72 percent of voters in the major northeast state of Assam voted for five seats.
The general election is generally seen as a chance for India to start a new beginning in its development after a decade-long rule by the Congress and its allies.
The vote was the first of nine phase Lok Sabha elections which began peacefully Monday from the northeast, a region considered by many as marginalized and neglected.
As the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday presented its manifesto for the election by focusing on development, inflation and corruption, the incumbent Congress President Sonia Gandhi warned against BJP's "communal agenda" which she said was a "grave threat" to the country's unity and integrity.
"Our opponent's communal agenda is a grave threat to our country's unity and integrity and Congress is the only party that can ensure that the country remains united," said Gandhi at a election meeting.
"What only matters to us is that we are all Indians. The different religions, castes, languages and colors of the skin do not matter," she told a meeting in the southern state of Kerala.
Local observers say there is not much of a difference between the economic agendas of the Congress and the BJP in the fierce electoral battle to form the next central government of India.
Both parties have promised to promote growth, check inflation, create jobs, reform the taxation system and encourage an investor- friendly environment, besides dealing effectively with fiscal issues, said Times of India online.
The BJP said in its manifesto it would welcome foreign direct investment (FDI) to boost the economy and create jobs.
However, it sticks to its opposition to let in foreign investment in multi-brand retail sector, which offers millions of jobs to local population.
NEW DELHI, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Voters in northeastern India kicked off the country's general elections on Monday, the first day of the nine-phase polling to elect a new government in India.
Some six constituencies in two northeastern states of Assam, ruled by the Congress party, and Tripura, ruled by the Communist Party (Marxist)-led Left Front, went to the polls Monday morning, which began at 7 a.m. (local time) and would continue till 5 p.m. (local time). Full story