New Delhi: The ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was slightly ahead of its Opposition coalition the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in the country’s general election, but both groups fell short of a parliamentary majority, early projections said on Wednesday.
Exit polls showed both alliances would need new partners, renewing concerns that a shaky coalition government will emerge at a time when Asia’s third largest economy is faced with a slowdown and instability in neighbouring Pakistan.
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A national projection by Headlines Today news channel also gave Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling Congress coalition a lead, but they did not give the basis of the forecast. The channel gave channel gave Congress and its allies 191 seats against 180 to BJP and its allies. The Left parties, which played a crucial role in the outgoing Lok Sabha with 60 seats, has been projected to get 38 while Others including the BSP are set to get 134 in a House of 543.
A poll by C-Voter polling agency showed the Congress-led alliance winning 189-201 seats with the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance taking 183-195 seats of the 543 seats at stake. The poll was conducted for India TV and UTV Business. The Third Front, a loose coalition of smaller parties spearheaded by the communists and which could hold the balance of power, could get 105 to 121 seats, the C-voter poll said.
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It includes the caste-based Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) whose leader Mayawati harbours prime ministerial ambitions. The poll projected BSP winning 24-30 seats which may be enough for her to leverage a key role in any government formation.
The election, projections showed, may have bruised the communists, leaving them with about 37 seats, down from more than 60 they won in 2004, weakening their ability to hold the balance of power in any new government.
The communists quit Singh’s coalition last year to protest a nuclear deal with Washington.
To rule a party or a coalition requires the support of 272 lawmakers forcing the Congress and the BJP-led by Lal Krishna Advani to launch a frantic hunt for new allies.
“We are looking at political uncertainty and horse-trading,” Amulya Ganguli, a New Delhi-based political commentator, said.
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In its projections, the Times Now news channel gave UPA 198 including 154 for Congress and NDA getting 183 with 142 for BJP. The Third Front is likely to get 112 including 38 for the left parties. Others are to get 50 seats.
According to English news channel CNN-IBN, the Congress party-led coalition is ahead with 185-205 seats in a general election. The poll forecast 165-185 seats for the BJP-led alliance.
A Star News exit poll said the Congress party-led coalition is ahead with 199 seats on the final day of voting. The poll, covering the month-long election till three hours before the close of voting, forecast 191 seats for the BJP-led alliance.
In the predictions by NewsX channel, the UPA has been projected to get 199 seats against 191 of NDA while the Third Front gets 104 and Others 48. Congress alone is expected to get 155 and BJP two less.
The actual count of votes is scheduled for 16 May and results from all the races to the 543-member Lower House of Parliament will be known that day.
Voting in nine states ended on Wednesday, the final round of a process that began on 16 April to allow security forces to move across the sprawling country to supervise the vote.
Exit polls had been way off the mark in 2004 Lok Sabha polls, with most of them projecting BJP-led NDA as the winner which did not turn out to be correct.
Ultimately, in 2004 elections the Congress and its pre-poll allies got 216 seats against a projection ranging from 170 to 205 seats. The BJP-led NDA had secured 187 seats against the projections of over 240 to 250 seats.
Graphics by Sandeep Bhatnagar / Mint