Congress appears to have a slight edge over the BJP in key states but both parties are likely to fall short of a majority in the Lok Sabha elections which may lead to intense horse-trading before a new government assumes power, an American think tank has predicted.
It also feels there is small chance that a Third Front could emerge in these elections should the communist parties link up with key regional parties to challenge Congress and the BJP.
"Congress appears to have a slight edge over the BJP in key states, but neither party is likely to win a clear majority of seats," Stratfor, based in Texas, said in its analysis on the Indian elections released after the first phase of polls.
The influence of these national parties has faded over the years while smaller regional and caste-based parties have proliferated, Stratfor said concluding as a result, intense political horse-trading will ensue after the election.
"Both Congress and BJP therefore will need to throw all their efforts into cobbling together a coalition with smaller parties to have a chance at taking office June 2," it said, without explaining how it expected the new government to be formed on a particular date.