New Delhi: An alliance led by the ruling left-of-centre Congress Party is most likely to win the next general election but it could need communist support to build a majority, a Reuters poll of 14 leading analysts has predicted.
The main battle of the April/May election will be between the Congress Party-led coalition, known as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
A group of smaller political parties, including the communists, have formally launched a 'Third Front' in a bid to provide an alternative to the two main national coalitions.
POLL PREDICTION: Congress would garner more seats than any other party but would need communist party support.
On average, analysts said there was a 32 per cent chance a Congress-led alliance would win, but would need communist party support to stay in power.
They said there was a 27 per cent possibility the Congress would win without leftist support. The leftist parties withdrew their support last year for the government over a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, but some analysts say they could rejoin in order to stop Hindu nationalists from forming government.
Those polled said, on average, there was a 23 per cent chance of an NDA victory and only an 18 per cent possibility of a Third Front government. India holds its general election from April 16 to May 13.
Counting will be on May 16. Reuters surveyed 14 analysts from a variety of backgrounds, including universities, pollsters and banks, on Monday and Tuesday.
The poll does not aim to be scientific but to give readers a snapshot of how some of the leading India analysts are thinking.
The following are the results of their replies. Reuters poll will redo this survey on a weekly basis each Tuesday. (There are 543 elected seats in parliament).
HOW MANY SEATS DO YOU THINK CONGRESS AND THE BJP WILL WIN?
CONGRESS Average 144 - Median 143
BJP Average 130 - Median 130
ASSIGN PERCENTAGES TO THE FOLLOWING SCENARIOS:
a) A UPA-led government with communist support Average 32 pc Median 30 pc
b) A UPA-led government without communist support Average 27 pc Median 28 pc
c) An NDA-led government Average 23 pc Median 25 pc
d) A Third Front-led coalition Average 18 pc Median10 pc
Who will be the next Prime Minister of India?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - 12 choices
Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee -- 1
Mayawati (Uttar Pradesh state leader - 1
L K Advani (BJP leader) - 0
Those polled were: