Ruling party surges ahead in India election

Election officials count votes at a polling center in Hyderabad, India, on Saturday.
The party of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was surging ahead in its bid for re-election as a major opposition party conceded defeat during vote count Saturday.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was leading in 252 of the 543 federal parliamentary boroughs by early afternoon. Congress workers were quick to assemble at the residence of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who heads the party, to celebrate with drumbeats and fireworks. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was ahead in 160 boroughs. Its leader Arun Jaitley conceded defeat, stating that the ruling party will win the election. “We respect this mandate and accept it,” Jaitley said. Indian communists, who withdrew their support for Singh’s government last year after he signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States, suffered a massive blow in their stronghold state of West Bengal. The party was able to survive primarily with the backing of a powerful regional party.

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Background:  India votes

The largest grouping, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, was losing out to its opponents in half of the parliamentary boroughs in West Bengal. The fifth and final phase of India’s marathon general election to choose a federal government ended Wednesday. India is home to about 714 million voters. About 100 million voters registered for Wednesday’s polling. Most of the results of the month-long voting will be out by the end of the day, election officials said.