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India turns against rulers.

Voters in India's general election delivered sharp setbacks to incumbent governments in the nation's 26 states as results emerged early today.

No party or alliance was expected to get a clear majority to rule in elections to the 545-member lower house of the federal parliament, but trends and results showed a clear swing against local governments in most key provinces.

Under India's constitution a state government need not resign if it suffers defeats in a parliamentary election, but political analysts said counting trends showed a clear anti-incumbency wave.

Local ruling parties, regardless of ideologies, suffered reverses in at least ten states accounting for nearly 330 of the 537 seats for which voting has been held so far.

"They will learn very fast if they are punished," said former prime minister Mr VP Singh.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led the race in most states, due mainly to new allies in the local opposition. Its alliance swept two key southern states and made a significant inroad into a third with a similar tie-up.

Teaming up with local parties, the BJP captured 19 of the 25 results declared in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam rules.

In neighbouring Karnataka, the ruling Janata Dal was humiliated by the BJP and its ally, the regional Lok Shakti party, winning ten of the 14 seats declared. The Janata Dal won just two.

But the BJP itself appeared set for a rout by arch-rival Congress party in the western states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where it was a ruling party.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 3, 1998
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