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Monday, October 4, 1999 Published at 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK

World: South Asia

Polls point to BJP win

Good news for the BJP who are projected to win a majority

Following a violent final day of voting in the marathon Indian election, exit polls point to a clear majority for the governing Bhatariya Janata Party-led coalition.

Indian Elections 99
Full results
The final outcome is unlikely to be known until Thursday, but two polls predict victory for the Hindu nationalists and their allies.

Figures published by Indian state television suggest the BJP block will have 287 seats in the new parliament, against 174 for Congress and its allies, and 77 for other parties.

Another private poll by Insight shows a more optimistic outlook for the BJP, with 295-305 seats, and a poorer performance from Congress, with 145-155 seats.

The BBC's Daniel Lak: "Possible further instability"
Counting starts on Wednesday. The use of new technology means the result should come relatively quickly. Previous counts have taken several days. A new parliament is due to sit by 21 October.

Violence kills 30

Sunday's polling - the fifth day in the staggered vote - was marred by attacks which left 30 people dead.

[ image: In Assam, a massive troop and police presence has been deployed]
In Assam, a massive troop and police presence has been deployed
Most of the violence took place in the troubled northeast, where militants had called for a poll boycott.

In the state of Manipur, where voting is scheduled for Monday, 16 people were killed in a shootout between paramilitary forces and militants.

Twenty civilians were injured, many of them critically. In the neighbouring states of Assam and Tripura, 12 people died during rebel attacks.

One person also died in the northern state of Bihar, where violence in earlier rounds of voting claimed some 45 lives.

The BBC's Mike Wooldridge: "With two days to the count, nothing is certain"
Maoist rebels kidnapped a polling official in West Bengal and destroyed a booth in the state's southern forest region of Jhargram.

More than 70,000 policemen and troops had been deployed in Assam alone in an effort to minimise trouble.

Correspondents say the violence was moderate by the standards of earlier elections and the real problem was voter apathy.

India's Election Commission said the turnout was 56%, which is lower than normal.


MS Gill, Chief Election Commissioner: "I think it is a fair election"
Sunday's voting took place in the north and east of the country, with crucial contests in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

About 133 million people in 118 constituencies were eligible to vote.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee cast his vote soon after polls opened, in the northern city of Lucknow.

But several villages in his constituency boycotted the vote, to protest against the lack of development in the area.

BBC Dehli Correspondent Daniel Lak: "A gruelling campaign for politicians and voters alike"
Black flags fluttered from rooftops and slogans were painted on walls saying: "No development, no votes".

Analysts say a lack of inherently political issues has turned the contest into a presidential-style campaign between Mr Vajpayee and Ms Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

There have been widespread charges of election rigging, leading the independent Election Commission to order hundreds of polling stations to hold reruns of the voting process.

Over the five polling days, 600 million people have been eligible to cast their ballots.

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