While we await the official results due Sunday, the exit polls are now out in India’s general election. The Hindustan Times reports that they suggest a close call, with (as expected) neither of the main alliances having won a majority.
an India TV exit poll telecast after balloting ended said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) could end up with 195-201 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha.
This tally could go up to 227-237 if the seats bagged by estranged allies such as Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party were to be included. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was tipped to bag 189-195 seats and the Third Front 113-121 seats, it said.
The story points out that the eligible electorate in India is greater than the combined populations of Russia and the USA: 714 million. Turnout was only about 55%, however.
Separately, the HT notes that the (otherwise mostly ceremonial) President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, “has a plan.”
Government functionaries familiar with the line of thinking at Rashtrapati Bhavan [the presidential residence] suggest that the single largest political party — rather than the largest pre-poll alliance — may get the first offer to form the government.
However, the story also notes that a previous president, K.R. Narayanan, believed that the president had “full discretion” in choosing the PM (who in any case has to prove his or her majority on the floor).
There is no clear view at Rashtrapati Bhavan if Patil should stick to this precedent and ask the largest party to produce evidence of support from their coalition partners.
Though the Congress too had submitted letters from supporting parties before [incumbent PM] Manmohan Singh got a formal invite from President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2004, a strong case is being made out for the President to not get into counting heads. She should instead ask the Prime Minister to take a floor test.