India

India voting ends in Tamil Nadu and Kerala elections

Jayaram Jayalalithaa, leader of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), attends a public rally during election campaigning in Chennai on May 11, 2016, Image copyright AFP
Image caption Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is seeking a second successive term in office in Tamil Nadu

Voting has ended in two key southern Indian states, where PM Narendra Modi's BJP is trying to a gain a foothold.

More than 80 million voters were eligible to cast ballots in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Polls were also being held in the union territory of Pondicherry.

Regional parties dominate in Tamil Nadu, while Communists are trying to stage a comeback in Kerala.

Polls have already been held in West Bengal and Assam in April and May. All the votes will be counted on Thursday.

Shortly before polls closed turnout was put at 69% in Tamil Nadu while Kerala recorded 70%.

Fierce contest

In Tamil Nadu, where polling was held in 232 seats, the BJP is seen as having little chance against the regional AIADMK and DMK parties, who are locked in a fierce contest.

The DMK, led by 91-year-old Muthuvel Karunanidhi, is trying to wrest power from the rival AIADMK party, which is led by the charismatic former film actress and current Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.

Image copyright NATHAN G
Image caption Mr Karunanidhi has been Tamil Nadu's chief minister five times in the past
Image caption The Communists are trying to regain power from the Congress in Kerala

The BJP is trying to secure a toehold in Kerala which has been traditionally ruled by either Congress-led governments or a coalition of left-wing parties.

This year, the left coalition, led by 92-year-old VS Achuthanandan, is trying to regain power from the Congress-led coalition.

Last week Mr Modi's comparison of Kerala with Somalia on infant mortality rates angered politicians and social media users.

Polls were also held in 30 seats in Pondicherry, where Chief Minister N Rangaswamy, the leader of a party comprising breakaway Congress party workers, is seeking re-election.

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