Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 08:57 UK

Media frenzy on India poll talks

Woman voter in Calcutta
Election turnout was put at about 60% across India

The Indian media are trying to dissect dozens of meetings taking place on coalition possibilities, as counting looms in the general election.

Voting ended on Wednesday and counting is on Saturday.

The ruling Congress-led coalition and opposition BJP-led alliance are scrambling to gain pledges of support with a hung parliament predicted.

Turnout for the election has been put at about 60% and security has so far generally been considered a success.

However, about 60 people lost their lives, most in Maoist violence. Turnout in 2004 was about 58%.

The parties have about two weeks to hammer out a workable government. Parliament must be constituted by 2 June.

The main question of who will become prime minister is more open than ever, analysts say.

Leftist key

Several exit polls and surveys commissioned by Indian media organisations have predicted a hung parliament.

Most of them have put Congress ahead of the BJP, but only by a handful of seats.

Eligible voters: 714 million
Polling centres: 828,804
Voting days: 16, 23, 30 April; 7, 13 May
Vote counting: 16 May

Exit polls though have a mixed history in India and in some cases have proved to be wide of the mark.

The Times of India reported that Congress was "brimming with confidence", saying its UPA alliance was trying to bring the regional Samajwadi Party into its fold.

The Pioneer said the leftist parties that fell out with Congress over a controversial nuclear deal with the US were prepared to back it again to keep the BJP out of power.

The leftists had been the main movers behind the idea of a Third Front government but the Pioneer said the Left sensed that was now "not feasible".

The Hindustan Times says the leftists may "reluctantly" give PM Manmohan Singh another term.

Manmohan Singh
Many names have been suggested for PM if Manmohan Singh loses out

After the counting the focus will fall on President Pratibha Patil.

There are no rules in the constitution on who she can invite to form a government. It could be the single largest party or most dominant coalition. She may ask for documented pledges of support.

As the marathon five-phase general election draws to a close, the government is breathing a sigh of relief that it has been largely trouble-free.

A senior home ministry official told the Times of India: "Although we cannot afford to be complacent now... it certainly gives us a kind of satisfaction that we could succeed in preventing any terror attack on the mainland."

Visiting US Pacific Command chief Adm Timothy J Keating said the US had "respect and admiration for India conducting relatively event free elections".

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