India's Poll Indecisive

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NEW DELHI: With national elections once again failing to produce a clear majority, India looks set for another season of political instability. TIME correspondent Meenakshi Ganguly reports that the Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looks set to take 249 seats, while Congress should take 167 and the incumbent United Front 98. Congress and the BJP are furiously courting tiny regional parties in search of a 273-vote majority, with a Congress-United Front coalition looking the more likely winner. That, says Ganguly, would mean further uncertainty: “The United Front would have the power to bring down a Congress government in the way that Congress recently brought it down.”

The big question remains the future of Sonia Gandhi: Her reluctant entry into politics is credited with saving Congress from being totally routed at the polls, and although she has thus far refused to be prime minister, her undisputed popular appeal may prove too tempting for Congress’s jaded leaders to bypass. Besides, Rajiv’s widow may have a natural flair for India’s unstable coalition politics -- after all, she hails from Italy, which has had 55 governments since 1945.