Page last updated at 05:48 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 06:48 UK

Delhi 'passes poll turnout test'

Voters in Delhi
Delhi's voting had previously been on a downward spiral

Voter awareness campaigns in India's capital, Delhi, appear to have had some success, with turnout on Thursday up on the last election.

Delhi's turnout was 53%, six points up on 2004, the Election Commission said.

A series of adverts had urged citizens to vote following Mumbai's disappointing 43% last week.

Overall turnout for Thursday in Delhi and seven states that also voted was about 57%. Counting in the marathon five-phase election is on 16 May.

The main fight is between the ruling Congress-led coalition and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Neither is expected to win outright and the role of smaller regional parties may be key.


Deputy election commissioner R Balakrishnan said: "Comparing the previous three phases, the commission marked that the voter turnout is more.

Ad campaign by the Delhi election authorities
TV campaigns encouraged Delhi's citizens to vote

"Polling was by and large peaceful barring a few stray incidents of violence, particularly in West Bengal. The commission would like to define Thursday's poll process as satisfactory."

The capital's pro-vote campaign included adverts on television, radio and in the press, setting Delhi a turnout test.

Citizens groups and activists also joined the campaign with candlelit marches and signature campaigns.

The drive appeared to have had most success in upscale and middle-class districts. They scored a higher turnout than rural areas that traditionally have heavier balloting.

Delhi has more than 10 million registered voters but over the years, voter turnout has been steadily declining - in 1993 it was 65.7%; in 1998 it came down to 49% and in the 2007 civic elections it was 43%.

West Bengal recorded the highest turnout on Thursday at 75%, followed by Punjab (65%), Haryana (63%), Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (both 50%) and Bihar (37%).

Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir was lowest at 24% amid an election boycott call by separatists who argue the election legitimises Indian rule.

However, the turnout was higher than the 18% in 2004.

There were a number of incidents of violence on Thursday.

The worst were in West Bengal, where two people were killed and more than 15 injured in three separate clashes between rival supporters.

The first phase of voting on 16 April was the most violent - with at least 17 people killed in Maoist attacks in eastern and central India.

The new parliament has to be constituted by 2 June.

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