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India’s Congress Facing Defeat as Local Parties Rise, Poll Says

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling coalition would lose an election held now, according to an opinion poll, while the chief opposition alliance is on course to make only marginal gains.

The current political mood in India means regional parties such as the Samajwadi Party that rules Uttar Pradesh, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in power in southern Tamil Nadu province are gaining in strength ahead of an election scheduled for May next year, the C-voter survey for the Times Now TV channel found.

Singh’s Congress party would win 113 seats, a drop of 90, in the 545-member lower house of parliament, the survey said. Times Now didn’t give a sample size or margin of error.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has the support to grab as many as 141 seats, 25 more than its 2009 tally. With its allies, including the Janata Dal (United), the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance may win 184 seats.

The BJP’s popularity may rise if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is allowed to lead the opposition bloc into the election, Times Now said on its website, citing the poll.

Singh’s government is struggling to combat an opposition onslaught over alleged corruption, lift an economy growing at its weakest pace in a decade and push suspended policy initiatives.

Modi’s growing role in the Hindu-nationalist BJP is a concern for some allies, including the Janata Dal party that rules Bihar, who fear it may alienate Muslim voters. The chief minister of Gujarat is accused by human rights groups and opponents of failing to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 people.

Modi’s administration said it did its best to maintain law and order during the rioting.

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