Modi camp confident as India election near finale

Modi camp confident as India election near finale

NEW DELHI - India's right-wing opposition voiced growing confidence Friday of a decisive victory in a marathon election as potential partners distanced themselves from the favourite to become prime minister, Narendra Modi.

"There's no need to wait until the 16th as the people have already decided," a bullish Modi told supporters a week ahead of the announcement of results from the world's biggest general election.

"It will be a Modi government this time. Good days are ahead of you," he added in a rally in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which will host part of the final round of voting on Monday.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win the most seats, but is unlikely to gain a majority on its own in the 543-seat parliament. Some analysts are predicting the party will have to find new allies in order to form a government.

Several potential allies have been distancing themselves from Modi during the final days of the election contest.

But Modi's top aide Amit Shah quashed any suggestion on Friday that his boss might step aside after the elections for a compromise candidate that would be acceptable to other parties who have cool relations with Modi.

"The NDA will get more than 300 seats in these elections," Shah said in reference to an existing BJP-led opposition grouping in parliament known as the National Democratic Alliance.

"We will get a clear majority and our prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be the prime minister," Shah added in comments carried by the CNN-IBN network.

Although the ruling Congress party is expected to be ousted after a decade in power, Modi's hopes of becoming premier could still be thwarted if leaders of powerful regional parties refuse to do business with him.

One potential partner, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, told reporters on Friday that she would not countenance any deal with Modi.

"I want to make it clear that BSP will not extend any kind of support to NDA at any cost," said Mayawati, a champion of India's lower caste dalits, whose party currently has 21 MPs and has its power base in Uttar Pradesh.

The West Bengal-based Trinamool Congress, another party that has been talked about as a BJP partner, also kept up its recent cold war against Modi by saying the "doors are shut" towards a government led by him.

The 63-year-old, who is chief minister of the thriving state of Gujarat, is popular among business leaders and middle-class voters grown frustrated by the economic slowdown and corruption scandals.

However he remains a polarising figure, and is feared by many Muslims after communal riots erupted in Gujarat 12 years ago soon after he came to power. More than 1,000 people were killed, mainly Muslims.

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