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Page last updated at 06:41 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 07:41 UK

India parties meet after election

Election machines in Calcutta
The counting of votes will be on Saturday

Two of India's main political parties, the Congress and the BJP, are holding separate meetings to discuss strategy after voting ended in the elections.

Counting of votes is scheduled for Saturday and a new parliament has to be constituted by 2 June.

A slew of exit polls have predicted a split outcome with no party or group getting an outright majority.

The main fight is between the ruling Congress party-led alliance and parties led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The two groups are pitted against a host of smaller regional parties and analysts say the new government is likely to be a coalition with many players.

Post-poll talks

Senior leaders of BJP have begun arriving at the party's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani's home to attend a meeting.

The party is expected to discuss post-poll alliances and authorise top leaders to negotiate with prospective allies.

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

Senior BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the state capital to attend the meeting.

Reports say he will be holding talks with smaller parties for their support.

Senior Congress party leaders too are meeting at the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's home.

Party sources say the leadership is discussing which parties it will be able to call on for support after the results have been counted and the numbers are in.

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

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

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

But almost all the polls are agreed on one thing - that neither of the two parties will have enough numbers to form a government on its own.

Such an outcome will see political parties getting involved in long and complex negotiations to cobble together a coalition government.

This would mean the spotlight will be on smaller regional parties in days to come - whose support for the Congress or BJP will be crucial in deciding who forms the next government in Delhi.

The month-long five phases of voting for the Indian parliament ended on Wednesday.

The first round of the general election on 16 April was marred by Maoist attacks in eastern and central India which killed at least 17 people. Later rounds were less violent.

About two million security personnel were deployed for the five-phase vote.



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