Voting was heavy amid scattered violence today in national elections expected to seal Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's mandate to succeed his slain mother.
A spokesman for the Indian Election Commission said more than 100 million people voted in an election that for the most part was peaceful in most of the 379 districts participating.
Nine persons were reported killed and scores injured in scattered instances of election violence in the states of Bihar, West Bengal and the far northeastern state of Tripura, authorities said.
Voting was limited to 16 of India's 22 states and six union territories in the first phase of parliamentary elections that have been staggered because of the enormous logistical problems in providing security and poll-watching.
Authorities said hundreds of thousands of security personnel were on alert at the 479,205 polling places across the nation on the first of three days of voting.
The results will not be known until balloting is completed Friday night, and even then results are not expected until the following day.
Police said that the deaths and injuries occurred during clashes between rival parties, police gunfire to break up disturbances and incidents of "booth capturing," a uniquely South Asian election phenomenon in which armed partisan gangs raid a polling station where an election is closely contested and shoot it out until one party takes command of the election boxes.
In addition, several of the more than 5,000 candidates vying for the 542 elective seats in the Lok Sabha -- the law-making lower house of Parliament -- have been slain in the past few days.
Gandhi was named prime minister by the Congress (I) Party two months ago, within hours of the assassination of his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, by two security guards.
Her death touched off a wave of violence across northern India in which 1,500 persons died. It was the worst religious violence since India gained independence in 1947.
The Congress (I) Party is expected to retain a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.