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Fortunes rising for Congress: Survey

The Congress has gained support largely because the main opposition BJP stands divided, says survey.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 00:22 IST

India's ruling Congress party will return to power with a comfortable majority if elections are held today, an opinion poll said on Sunday.

The Congress has gained support largely because the main opposition led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party remains divided, the poll published by India Today said.

The Congress leads a coalition of more than a dozen parties after it defeated the Hindu nationalist opposition in the 2004 national elections.

The India Today survey said the coalition would get 252-261 out of the 545 seats in Parliament—a gain of 1.5 per cent from the last elections.

With the support of leftist lawmakers, who even now shore up the government, the coalition can cross the majority mark of 272 seats. Elections are due in India in 2009.

"So there is no midlife fatigue," India Today said, commenting on the results of the survey conducted by AC Nielsen and ORG-Marg among 14,000 voters.

Another poll announced earlier this month by the Delhi-based Centre for Study of Developing Societies, a private news channel and a leading Indian daily, gave similar findings, saying Congress could alone win about 100 more seats from the last elections.

In recent months, the opposition has slammed the government for spiralling prices of common goods, rising Islamic militancy and a controversial nuclear deal with the United States.

But the poll "shows that the (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh government has more people rooting in its favour than shouting against it", India Today said.

But the survey said 17 per cent of voters thought the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi would make a better prime minister than the soft-spoken Singh, who polled 15 per cent. Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had the highest approval ratings of 24 per cent.

Singh was nominated by Gandhi to lead the government after she turned down the job, faced with a virulent campaign by the nationalist opposition who targeted her for her foreign birth.

First Published: Aug 28, 2006 00:22 IST