Deadlock looms in Indian elections

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The ruling Congress-led coalition was slightly ahead of the opposition Hindu-nationalist alliance in India's general election but both groups fell short of a parliamentary majority, according to early projections at the end of a month of voting.

Two exit polls showed both alliances would need new partners, renewing concerns that a shaky coalition government will emerge at a time when Asia's third largest economy is faced with a slowdown and instability in neighbouring Pakistan. Official results will be released on Saturday.

Exit polls have had a mixed record in the past, given the difficulties of assessing an electorate of 714 million people, or more than twice the population of the United States. A poll by C-Voter polling agency showed the centre-left Congress alliance winning up to 205 seats with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party alliance taking up to 193 seats of the 543 seats at stake. To rule, a party or a coalition requires the support of 272 MPs.