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India Opposition Poised for Gains in State Elections, Poll Says

Sept. 19 (Bloomberg) -- India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party may win three of four states holding elections in the next few months, an opinion poll showed, indicating a boost in support ahead of a nationwide vote due by May.

The BJP is set to wrest Rajasthan, the country’s biggest state by area, from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ruling Congress party, according to the survey released yesterday by the Times Now television channel and C-voter, a polling firm. The opposition party will also retain power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and make gains in New Delhi, it showed.

The poll is the first released since the BJP picked Narendra Modi as its choice for prime minister ahead of a campaign to end Singh’s rule after a decade in office. His administration has been plagued by corruption allegations, rising prices and the slowest economic growth since 2003.

The survey, which did not provide a time frame or a margin of error, polled about 39,000 people across four states, according to Times Now and C-voter. A separate survey conducted by research agency C fore for the Hindustan Times predicted today that Singh’s Congress party may retain power in the capital for a fourth term.

The state elections will be the last test for the parties before the national vote next year. In July, a Times Now and C-voter survey found that the BJP’s opposition alliance would top Singh’s ruling coalition in next year’s election, with neither winning a majority in the 545-member lower house.

The BJP is banking on Modi’s record of delivering higher-than-average economic growth rates as chief minister of Gujarat state to propel the party to national power. Singh’s party has attacked him over his handling of 2002 riots in the state that killed about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

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