Orissa Christians Wary as Final Phase of Elections Begin

The second and final phase of elections in Orissa, India, began on Thursday amid tight security.

More than 14.5 million people are expected to vote for 84 candidates seeking 11 Lok Sabha seats in the second phase.

At least 16,572 booths in 11 districts have been set up and security arrangements have been made to make the polling peaceful, a senior state police official said.

The districts of Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar and Jajpur are to receive special security attention, the official added.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik keen to return to power and for this he is addressing 14 campaign rallies a day.

He has promised the people security and development asserting that the polarizing of people on religious and caste lines would not be tolerated.

Christians, meanwhile, are wary over the developments in the state to ensure minorities would not have to face another brutal wave of violence as they did last August after the murder of a Hindu fundamentalist leader.

Several church organizations have released statements urging voters to vote for candidates committed to "secularism and communal harmony."

In the second phase, the election will be held in 141 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 13 states and Union Territories.

Other than Orissa, the states going to the polls in this phase include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.

The votes are scheduled to be tallied on May 16.