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May 22, 2009

India's massive general election

On May 16th, 2009, the Election Commission of India announced the results of its recent month-long India-wide election for their lower house of Parliament - the largest democratic election in the world. An estimated 714 million voters (from a population of 1.2 billion) were eligible to cast their vote in one of five separate phases at over 800,000 polling stations, starting on April 16th. Logistically difficult, massive in scale, and opposed by various rebel groups, separatists and protestors, the elections still managed to be held with minimal disruption, with an average voter turnout of greater than 56%. The big winner was the the Indian National Congress party, which will form the new government under the incumbent prime minister Manmohan Singh. As with any photo story from India, it is impossible to capture every aspect in just a handful of pictures - collected here are only some of the scenes that played out across the nation over the last month. (40 photos total)

A woman shows her ink-marked finger after casting her vote at a polling station in Sonapur, about 50 km (31 miles) from Guwahati, India on April 23, 2009. Millions of Indians voted in this, the second stage of a month-long general election. (REUTERS/Utpal Baruah)

People look on from a rooftop as Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi, unseen, addresses an election rally in Ghaziabad, India, Thursday, April 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi) #

A child looks on as Bahujan Samaj Party supporters listen to party president Mayawati at an election rally in Allahabad, India, Monday, April 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

Fans of Indian movie star-turned-politician Chiranjeevi wave the actor's Praja Rajyam Party flags and listen to him speak during an election campaign in Vijayawada, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Thursday, April 16, 2009. Chiranjeevi, the beloved hero of 149 adventure-romance films, has quickly become a political force since leaving Tollywood, the Telugu-language film industry that he ruled for three decades, to found his own party and contest elections in the key state of Andhra Pradesh. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) #

A voter walks towards a polling station to cast her ballot in Bapally, 110 km (68 miles) west of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, April 16, 2009. With Maoist insurgents stepping up attacks, tens of millions of Indians began voting in a month-long general election. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) #

A Hindu holy man, center, prepares to cast his vote in Ayodhya, India, Thursday, April 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan) #

A supporter of the Nationalist Congress Party shows his head shaved in the shape of the party symbol, a clock during a rally addressed by Congress party President Sonia Gandhi, unseen, in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 26, 2009. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh) #

Communist Party of India (Marxist) party supporters hold party umbrellas with the sickle and hammer during an election rally in Agartala on April 21, 2009. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Muslim man shows his ink-marked finger after casting his ballot at a polling station in Tiamari village, about 280 km (174 miles) west from Guwahati, India on April 23, 2009. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri) #

A man casts his vote at a polling centre during the fourth phase of India's general elections in Kadat Village near Abu Road in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan May 7, 2009. (REUTERS/Arko Datta) #

A voter shows her ink-marked finger after casting her ballot at a polling station at Bapally, west of Hyderabad, India on April 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) #

Polling officers check Electronic Voting Machines at a distribution centre in the southern Indian city of Chennai May 12, 2009. (REUTERS/Babu) #

An Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier stands guard outside a polling station in Srinagar on May 7, 2009. Kashmir voted under tight security amid a crippling strike by separatists and fresh boycott calls from hardline rebels. (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images) #

Portraits depicting Indian movie star-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, left and right, are seen painted alongside former Andhra Pradesh state chief minister late N.T. Rama Rao, center, on a cycle rickshaw during an election campaign in Vijayawada, India on Thursday, April 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) #

Women look on as they queue to cast their vote at a polling station on April 23, 2009 in the Muslim dominated town of Mukalmua, near Guwahati, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A voter shows her in-marked thumb after casting her ballot at Bhaderwah, about 200 km (124 miles) north of Jammu, during the second phase of the country's general election April 23, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Gupta) #

A polling official marks the index finger of a voter with indelible ink before casting her vote inside a polling booth in Rae Bareli, India, Thursday, April 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

[photo removed] #

Women peer out from their veils as they stand in a queue to their votes at Jigna village in Rae Bareli, the constituency where Congress party President Sonia Gandhi is standing for re-election, India, Thursday, April 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

A voter arrives to cast his ballot at a polling station in Thiksey, in Indian-administered Kashmir on May 13, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Gupta) #

Poll officials inspect an electronic voting machine at a distribution centre in Mumbai April 29, 2009. (REUTERS/Arko Datta) #

A woman shows her ink-stained finger outside a polling center at Nangrin village in Shillong parliamentary constituency in India's north eastern Meghalaya state,Thursday, April 16, 2009. (AP Photo/ Anupam Nath) #

Polling officers carry Electronic Voting Machines to a polling station in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh May 12, 2009. (REUTERS/Anil Dayal) #

Polling officers check Electronic Voting Machines at a distribution centre in the central Indian city of Bhopal April 22, 2009. (REUTERS/Raj Patidar) #

A woman shows her marked finger after casting her vote at a polling station, in Jamuva Bazar, near Varanasi, India, Thursday, April 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) #

An election official takes rest next to a voting booth at a polling centre near Karjat, around 100 km (62 miles) east of Mumbai, April 22, 2009. (REUTERS/Arko Datta) #

Ladakhi women queue outside a polling station as they wait to cast their vote in a village of Ladakh in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir on on May 13, 2009, in the last phase of the general elections. (MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man smokes after casting his vote outside a polling station in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh April 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi) #

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan (center), son Abhishek Bachchan (right), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (2nd from left) and Jaya Bachchan display their ink-stained fingers after casting votes at a polling center in Mumbai April 30, 2009. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Voters cross the Chenab valley on a cable car to cast their ballot in Doda, about 175 km (109 miles) north of Jammu, during the second phase of the country's general election April 23, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Gupta) #

A monk, who is also a voter, drags a polling agent outside a polling station in Thiksey, 20 km (12 miles) east of Leh, May 13, 2009. The voters claimed that the polling agent was involved in false voting. (REUTERS/Amit Gupta) #

A man displays the indelible ink mark on his index finger after casting his vote, outside a polling station in Sonapur village, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Gauhati, India, Thursday, April 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) #

Voters smile and show their ink-marked fingers after casting their ballots at a polling station at Pargi village, 120 km (75 miles) west of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad April 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) #

A policeman gestures threateningly towards voters breaking a queue, at a polling station on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, Thursday, April 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.) #

A Muslim woman displays the ink mark on her finger after casting her votes in Rae Bareli, India, Thursday, April 30, 2009. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) #

Security personnel keep guard, as polling officers, unseen, check electronic voting machines to be used in the first phase of elections, in Jammu, India, Wednesday, April 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Channi Anand) #

Policemen detain a Kashmiri protester, during a demonstration against the Indian general elections, in Srinagar, India, Tuesday, April 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan) #

A voter casts her ballot at a polling station in the northern Indian city of Mathura May 7, 2009. (REUTERS/K.K. Arora) #

Chief of India's ruling Congress party Sonia Gandhi (left) and India's Prime Minister-elect Manmohan Singh (2nd from left) smile during the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting at the central hall of the Indian parliament in New Delhi May 19, 2009. India's Congress party unanimously elected Manmohan Singh as leader of the Congress Parliamentary party on Tuesday, setting the stage for his appointment as prime minister, a Reuters reporter said. (REUTERS/B Mathur) #

A voter shows her ink-marked finger after she cast her ballot, outside a polling station in Thiksey, May 13, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Gupta) #

 
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