Some 83 million voted in 89 Lok Sabha constituencies across India Wednesday, a day an FIR was slapped against BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for showing off his party symbol close to a polling booth.
Braving the scorching summer, about 60% of the 139 million electorate trooped to over 150,000 polling stations in seven states and two union territories to pick 89 MPs from among 1,200 candidates including Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli), BJP president Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) and BJP patriarch L.K. Advani (Gandhinagar).
Wednesday marked the end of the eighth phase of 10-phase balloting that ends May 12 to elect a 543-member Lok Sabha. The votes will be counted May 16. Polling is now over in 438 constituencies and wholly in 21 states.
Modi, the Gujarat chief minister, courted a controversy when he displayed a lotus symbol near the polling booth in Gandhinagar where he voted. He also clicked a selfie.
Opposition parties, including the Congress and the AAP, were quick to complain that this violated the model code of conduct. On the urging of the poll panel, the Gujarat authorities filed a police complaint against Modi.
Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said: "We appeal to the Election Commission to ask the Gujarat government not to come under pressure of the chief minister."
The complaint was lodged at the Ahmedabad City police station.
Polling was brisk in most places, barring Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar seat where balloting was sluggish amid a boycott call by separatists. West Bengal as well as Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region, which also voted for a legislature for the proposed state, saw a huge voter turnout.
Apart from Srinagar where the voter turnout barely crossed 25%, heavy polling took place in Punjab where it was 73%, Daman and Diu recorded 76% voter turnout while Andhra Pradesh saw 70% voting being recorded. West Bengal saw a staggering 81% voter turnout.
Balloting took place in Gujarat (26 Lok Sabha seats), Andhra Pradesh (17), Uttar Pradesh (14), Punjab (13), West Bengal (9), Bihar (7) and Jammu and Kashmir, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (one constituency each).
After voting in Gandhinagar, Modi flew to Bihar where he addressed a rally in Ujiyarpur Lok Sabha constituency calling for "a strong government in the country".
"It is certain a new government led by the BJP will be formed," he said, predicting a defeat for the Congress-led UPA government.
All 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat and all 13 in Punjab voted Thursday.
Punjab is witnessing some high-profile electoral battles. The most keenly watched contest is in Amritsar where BJP's Arun Jaitley, fighting a Lok Sabha election for the first time, is pitted against former chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress.
In Andhra Pradesh, nine of the 10 districts which constitute the Telangana region recorded brisk voting.
Prominent among the contestants for Lok Sabha elections include union cabinet Minister S. Jaipal Reddy (Mahabubnagar), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao (Medak) and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad).
TRS chief Rao said he was confident of his party forming a government on its own strength in the proposed state of Telangana.
Heavy polling took place in West Bengal, following which the Communist Party of India-Marxist alleged "widespread rigging, violence and capture of polling booths" by the Trinamool Congress.
"Hundreds of polling booths were affected in Bolpur, Birbhum, Bardhaman Purba, Bardhaman-Durgapur, Howrah and Uluberia Lok Sabha constituencies," it said, demanding a re-poll.
"Polling agents of the CPI-M and the Left Front were driven out in a number of booths and blatant false voting has taken place in the presence of polling personnel," the party added.