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Grim polls for India's ruling Congress ahead of elections

India's ruling scandal-rocked Congress party would fail to win enough seats to form a government if elections were held today.

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(PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

India's ruling scandal-rocked Congress party would fail to win enough seats to form a government if elections were held today, a poll showed Tuesday.

The Congress-led coalition would win just 136 seats in the lower house of parliament, well below the number needed to form a majority, the poll conducted for several Indian television stations said.

In a glimmer of good news for Congress, the main opposition, a coalition led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), would also be unable to form government, winning 156 seats, the poll showed.

"Both of them (Congress and BJP) are too low to win," said Yashwant Deshmukh, chief editor of CVoter which conducted the survey.

Congress is hoping for a third straight victory after more than a decade in power, in national elections due by the middle of next year.

But the party has been hit by a series of corruption scandals, an ailing rupee and a struggling economy that last year grew at its slowest pace in a decade.

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The survey results suggest that forging alliances with smaller, regional parties could prove crucial in the election to secure a majority in the 545-seat lower house and form a government.

The survey showed BJP candidate Narendra Modi was the preferred prime minister, with 37.7 percent of those polled opting for the controversial Hindu hardliner, compared to 17.6 percent for Congress heir apparent Rahul Gandhi.

Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received 6.2 per cent.

"It's all one-way traffic for Modi, he is the most popular choice by far," Deshmukh told AFP.

Modi, the chief minister of thriving Gujarat state in western India, was chosen by the BJP in June to front the election and is likely to be tapped as the candidate for the prime minister's post should the BJP win.

But he remains a divisive figure nationally after being accused of doing little to stop religious riots in his state in 2002 in which some 2,000 people — mainly Muslims — were killed, according to rights groups.

Some 13,000 people across all states were questioned on their voting intentions in the survey conducted between July 18-24 . Those surveyed were a representative sample of 36,914 voters whose views are tracked by CVoter over a number of months.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130730/grim-polls-indias-ruling-congress-ahead-elections