Sonia Gandhi, Advani contestants in third phase of Indian elections

Indian ElectionsNew Delhi- The leader of India's ruling coalition Sonia Gandhi and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani are among the 1,567 candidates in the fray for the third phase of general elections scheduled to be held Thursday. An estimated 144 million voters are eligible to vote in this phase, where balloting will be held in 107 parliamentary constituencies across nine states and two federally-administered territories.

The Election Commission has said additional security would be provided for 15,193 booths in the eastern states of Bihar and West Bengal which are located in areas affected by a Maoist insurgency.

Elections in the third phase are being held in Gujarat and Sikkim states and in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh along with the federally administered territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli as well as Daman and Diu.

Elections are also being held in one constituency in the militancy-hit northern Jammu and Kashmir state which saw a heavy deployment of security forces Wednesday, the PTI news agency reported.

Several top leaders of the separatist Hurriyat Conference, which has given a call to boycott the elections, had been placed under house arrest.

In Sikkim, where elections to the 32-member state legislature will be held simultaneously, each polling booth has a separate voting machine for the state's 3,058 Buddhist monks and nuns whose Sangha assembly constituency does not have a geographical boundary.

Elections will also be held Thursday in the Mumbai South constituency where a terrorist attack left more than 170 people dead in November 2008.

Results for all five phases of the elections that began on April 16 are due to be announced on May 16.(dpa)