By James Lamont, Varun Sood and James Fontanella-Khan
Published: April 9 2009 17:28 | Last updated: April 9 2009 17:28
India’s 2009 parliamentary election is difficult to predict. The vote will be influenced by the impact of global recession, deepening job cuts and last year’s devastating terror strike on Mumbai.
The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance will contest the elections against the National Democratic Alliance led by the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and the Third Front grouping of leftist and regional parties.
The winner is likely to be a patchwork of alliances, in some cases forged after the votes are cast between April 16 and May 13. The new government is expected to reflect the rise of regional parties and their leaders against the waning appeal of national parties like Congress, BJP and the left.
The ruling Congress party is confident it can beat the anti-incumbency tendency of Indian voters and hold onto power. It feels that under the neutral leadership of Manmohan Singh, the prime minister and former finance minister, Indians have enjoyed greater prosperity and set aside some of their communal divisions.
But in the back of everyone’s mind is the potential for the Indian electorate to surprise.
No-one expected the Congress victory last time around in 2004. So as electoral blocs chose their partners and political leaders paw over the electoral arithmetic, few will hazard a guess as to what the new government will look like in the world’s largest democracy when it is formed at the beginning of June.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009"