NEW DELHI – An Indian man chopped off his index finger after realising he had voted for the “wrong” political party.
Mr. Pawan Kumar in a video says he accidentally ended up voting for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
He says he wanted to vote for a regional party – but was confused by the many symbols on the voting machine.
Every voter’s index finger is marked with indelible ink after they cast their ballot.
Mr. Kumar cast his vote on Thursday, April 18 in Bulandshahr in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. This was the second phase of polling in the Indian general election.
“I wanted to vote for the elephant, but I voted for the flower by mistake,” Mr Kumar can be heard saying in the video. He is referring to the party symbols displayed on the voting machine next to the name of each candidate.
While the BJP’s symbol is a lotus, the elephant is the symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a regional heavyweight that has allied with two other regional parties against the BJP.
Party symbols play a big role in India’s elections because they are easy to identify in a country where literacy is low in many parts. There are also numerous regional parties and alliances, which often confuse voters.
Mr. Kumar is a Dalit (formerly known as untouchables) – a crucial vote bank for the BSP.
Thursday’s vote was seen as important for India’s powerful regional parties, which dominate politics in their states and are fronted by charismatic local politicians.
The election is taking place over seven stages, with votes being counted on 23 May. There are 900 million eligible voters, making this the biggest election the world has ever seen.