India’s election next year will probably result in a hung parliament as the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s pick for prime minister deters potential governing partners, a former ally said.
The BJP’s choice of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi to lead the country if it wins elections due by May has split opponents to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, Nitish Kumar, chief minister of eastern Bihar state, said in a Nov. 13 interview. In June, his Janata Dal (United) party ended a 17-year alliance with the BJP over Modi’s appointment.
“There was a wave against corruption, scams and high inflation in the current government, and this could have been a source for unifying all opposition parties,” Kumar said in the interview at his official residence in Patna, the state capital. “But BJP spoiled this chance by putting a controversial figure as a PM candidate. Now the country is headed toward a hung parliament, and only BJP will be responsible for this.”
Kumar is among regional leaders that could tip the balance in elections in the nation of 1.2 billion people that come as the economy grows at the slowest pace in a decade. His party holds 20 seats in the 545-member parliament now controlled by Singh’s Congress party and its allies.
The BJP-led six-party alliance will win 186 of 543 seats up for grabs, while Singh’s coalition will take 117, according to a poll published last month by C-voter polling agency, India TV and Times Now television. That would leave non-aligned parties with 240 seats.
“This is an era of alliances, and BJP will have to seek partners, if not before the election then after,” Kumar said. “We wanted to be with the BJP, but because of the issues I mentioned, we are alone today.”
Modi, chief minister of western Gujarat state since 2001, has been refused a visa to the U.S. over his alleged role in the 2002 riots that killed about 1,000 Muslims. He denies any wrongdoing and a Supreme Court-appointed panel investigating one documented incident found no evidence that he took decisions to prevent assistance from reaching those being attacked.
India last week began voting in five state elections that are considered a test of Modi’s support before next year’s national vote. The BJP is set to win power in four of the states covered in an opinion poll conducted by India Today magazine and ORG.