Indian right looks set for poll victory

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India will hold elections over four days beginning 16 February, the chief election commissioner said yesterday.

Early opinion surveys have indicated the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party will win the most seats, though no party is expected to get a majority. The BJP was to launch its campaign later yesterday with a rally in Bombay.

No party won a majority in the last elections in May 1996, and ideological differences and competing ambitions kept the main blocs from working together. New voting had to be called three years early after the Congress Party withdrew support from the governing United Front coalition, accusing one of its members of supporting Sri Lankan guerrillas linked to the 1991 assassination of Congress leader and former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

AP, New Delhi