Washington: Congress appears to have a slight edge over the BJP in key states but both parties are likely to fall short of a majority in the Lok Sabha elections which may lead to intense horse-trading before a new government assumes power, an American think tank has predicted.
It also feels there is small chance that a Third Front could emerge in these elections should the communist parties link up with key regional parties to challenge Congress and the BJP.
“Congress appears to have a slight edge over the BJP in key states, but neither party is likely to win a clear majority of seats,” Stratfor, based in Texas, said in its analysis on the Indian elections released after the first phase of polls.
The influence of these national parties has faded over the years while smaller regional and caste-based parties have proliferated, Stratfor said concluding as a result, intense political horse-trading will ensue after the election.
“Both Congress and BJP therefore will need to throw all their efforts into cobbling together a coalition with smaller parties to have a chance at taking office 2 June,” it said, without explaining how it expected the new government to be formed on a particular date.
In its analysis, Stratfor noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is once again the Congress candidate for prime ministership, “has announced that he is willing to bury past differences with the left-wing parties, and would be open for forming a new coalition with them should circumstances require it”.
“The left-wing parties will use their political clout to try and sway the ruling party away from the United States, though they are unlikely to have much success in determining how New Delhi conducts its foreign relations,” it said.
The left-wing front led by the CPI (Marxist) was vital to forming Congress’ coalition in the 2004 elections, but became an annoyance as the ruling UPA sought to ink the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal.
The think-tank said Congress’ five-year stint in power witnessed record growth rates of nearly 9%, but felt that this is expected to slump between 4.5 and 5% in the coming year.
“The Indian economy has been more insulated than most Asian countries in dealing with the global economic crisis, but is still facing job losses, drops in industrial output and slowdowns in the manufacturing sector.
Stratfor said there is unlikely to be change in the foreign policy of the country by a government led by either the Congress or the BJP. However, any government with the support of the Left Parties would experience pressure for change in the nation’s foreign policy.