Preliminary results from India's general elections indicate the ruling
Congress Party could hold on to its majority in parliament. Projections
are giving the Congress Party 250 seats against 160 for the opposition
bloc headed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the
There was jubilation among Congress
Party leaders as the alliance led by the party began racing toward
victory hours after vote-counting began Saturday.
off firecrackers and danced in the streets as the Congress Party and
its allies looked set to win more seats compared to the last election -
way ahead of the party's most optimistic projections.
to projections, the Congress Party, along with its allies, is still
about 20 seats short of the 272 seats it needs for a majority in
parliament. But the task of gathering allies to cross the half-way mark
in parliament is easier now that it has a clear lead over the
opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
The ruling party is expected to pick up about 190 seats on its own - it's best performance in nearly two decades.
A victory for the ruling party means Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be able to form India's next government.
think now there should not be any problem, because the mandate is for
Congress," said Rajiv Shukla, a spokesman for the party.
Dikshit, a prominent leader of the Congress Party who heads the local
government in New Delhi, summed up the feeling in her party.
"One of great happiness, great relief and absolute joy," saidDikshit.
opposition Bharatiya Janata Party expressed its disappointment after
projections showed it trailing the Congress Party.
"It is a disappointment, but like all
good matches, one loses, one wins, we have lost, but with the hope we
will come back again strongly," said Siddharth Nath, a
spokesman for the party.
grouping of leftist and regional parties, which had hoped to challenge
the two main parties and form the government, fared poorly.
Congress Party attributed its showing in the polls to the work it has
done for the rural poor, who make up the bulk of India's voters.
victory by the Congress Party and its allies means India will have a
stable coalition government, and not an unwieldy and weak coalition
that many had expected.
The election took place at a crucial
time, when India is showing signs of a nascent recovery from the
economic slowdown that much of the world is grappling with. India's new
parliament must be seated by June 2.