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Mar 17, 2009 at 10:00pm IST

Poll sees Congress coalition surging ahead

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:

  • Amulya Ganguli, independent analyst;
  • Mahesh Rangarajan, independent analyst;
  • Phani Sekhar, fund manager, Angel Broking;
  • T K Bhaumik, chief economist, JK Organisation;
  • Alastair Newton, political analyst, Nomura Securities;
  • Rupa Rege Nitsure, Chief economist, Bank of Baroda, Mumbai;
  • Pran Chopra, Independent political commentator;
  • D H Pai Panandikar, The RPG Foundation;
  • Dr N Bhaskara Rao, Centre for Media Studies;
  • Professor Sudha Pai, Jawahar Lal Nehru University;
  • Seema Desai, Eurasia Group;
  • Vinod Mehta, Editor-in Chief, Outlook Magazine;
  • V Anantha Nageswaran, Chief Investment Officer, Asia Pacific, Julius Baer;
  • Yashwant Deshmukh, Head of C-Voter Polling Agency.

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