Soldiers Patrol Indian Town as National Election Violence Kills 98
NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Soldiers patrolled the north Indian town of Meham Thursday, the flashpoint of election violence that left 13 people dead in Meham and a total of at least 98 dead nationwide, police and news reports said.
Incomplete results showed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress Party losing heavily in elections Tuesday to eight state legislatures and the governing National Front coalition and its electoral ally, the Hindu right- wing Bharatiya Janata Party, making major gains.
Besides Wednesday’s deaths in Haryana state’s Meham constituency, at least 80 people were killed Tuesday in eastern Bihar state during voting for state assemblies and by-elections and others died in Gujarat and Maharashtra states.
Rival supporters fought pitched battles in Meham on Wednesday when another vote was ordered in some balloting centers following allegations of electoral fraud.
A police spokesman in Chandigarh, the state capital, said three people died in the fighting and 10 were killed when police fired to control rioting mobs.
Voting was suspended and the army was called out to keep the peace, said the spokesman, who cannot be identified under briefing rules.
Newspapers blamed Om Prakash Chauthala, Haryana state’s chief minister, for most of the vote fraud in Meham. He was running for the Haryana state assembly from the Meham district.
″Armed gangs were seen moving from booth to booth in the chief minister’s constituency and getting the ballot papers stamped in his favor,″ The Hindu newspaper said.
Voting results indicated the Congress Party was being voted out of power in at least five of the eight states where elections were held this week.
United News of India said the National Front and Bharatiya Janata Party won most of the seats in Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states and were set to form governments, either in tandem or singly.
Complete results from Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and Maharashtra states were not expected until Friday.
United News said the National Front and Bharatiya Janata won 702 of 996 results announced so far, and Congress 197. Left-wing groups and independents took the other seats.
In all, 1,610 seats were at stake and Congress put up candidates in all but 30 races. The National Front and Bharatiya Janata each fielded about 1,000 candidates, agreeing to ″friendly contests″ in some constituencies .