March 17, 2009 / 9:17 AM / 11 years ago

Reuters poll sees Congress coalition leading in election

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - 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.

A supporter of India's ruling Congress party rides a motorbike in Jammu in this December 12, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Amit Gupta/Files

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.

On average, analysts said there was a 32 percent chance a Congress-led alliance would win, but would need communist party support to stay in power. They said there was a 27 percent 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 percent chance of an NDA victory and only an 18 percent 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 will repeat this survey on a weekly basis each Tuesday.

HOW MANY SEATS DO YOU THINK CONGRESS AND THE BJP WILL WIN?

CONGRESS Average 144 - Median 143

BJP Average 130 - Median 130

(There are 543 elected seats in parliament)

2) ASSIGN PERCENTAGES TO THE FOLLOWING SCENARIOS:

a) A UPA-led government with communist support

Average 32 pct Median 30 pct

b) A UPA-led government without communist support

Average 27 pct Median 28 pct

c) An NDA-led government

Average 23 pct Median 25 pct

d) A Third Front-led coalition

Average 18 pct Median10 pct

3) 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:

1) AMULYA GANGULI, independent analyst;

2) MAHESH RANGARAJAN, independent analyst;

3) PHANI SEKHAR, fund manager, Angel Broking;

4) T.K. BHAUMIK, chief economist, JK Organisation;

5) ALASTAIR NEWTON, political analyst, Nomura Securities;

6) RUPA REGE NITSURE, Chief economist, Bank of Baroda, MUMBAI;

7) PRAN CHOPRA, Independent political commentator;

8) D.H. PAI PANANDIKAR, The RPG Foundation;

9) Dr N. BHASKARA RAO, Centre for Media Studies;

10) Professor SUDHA PAI, Jawahar Lal Nehru University;

11) SEEMA DESAI, Eurasia Group; 12) VINOD MEHTA, Editor-in Chief, Outlook Magazine;

13) V. ANANTHA NAGESWARAN, Chief Investment Officer, Asia Pacific, Julius Baer;

14) YASHWANT DESHMUKH, Head of C-Voter Polling Agency.

For more election-related online stories click: here

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