| GEO World|
| Turnout in Indian voting tops 50 percent|
| Updated at: 0559 PST, Friday, May 08, 2009|
NEW DELHI: More than half of the voters in the eight states participating Thursday in India's general elections cast ballots for a new federal government, election officials said.
A man gestures during an election rally in Srinagar. Turbout in Indian-administered Kashmir was low at 24 percent.
"Tentatively, the turnout in the fourth phase was about 57 percent," Indian election commission spokesman Rajesh Malhotra told media.
His comments came after voting closed in the national capital, New Delhi, and the seven other states taking part in the fourth round of the country's five-stage elections.
West Bengal, India's communist-ruled state, recorded the highest turnout Thursday of around 75 percent, he said.
Overall, India has around 714 million voters, up by 43 million since the last general elections in 2004 that brought to power a communist-backed coalition led by the Congress party.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government lost support of the left parties last year for signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States. Nonetheless, it survived with backing of a powerful regional grouping.
Regional parties play a key role in forming the government in India, where the Congress party of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are main rivals.
The fifth round of voting in the general elections takes place May 13, and the vote count is scheduled for May 16.