A farmer drives a tractor past a billboard advertisement for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) picturing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, in Modinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Fitch Bucks Consensus and Rules Out Easy India Mandate for Modi

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will “struggle” to win a simple majority in India’s upcoming general election and the opposition Congress party has a “fair chance” at forming government with support from regional allies, according to Fitch Solutions Macro Research.

Neither of the country’s main national parties is likely to get a majority in the lower house of the parliament, the affiliate of Fitch Ratings said. That means both will have to try and cobble together a coalition with regional parties at a time when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has disagreements with many large “potential kingmaker parties,” Fitch Solutions said.

“We at Fitch Solutions are bucking the overwhelming consensus at this juncture that the BJP will most likely form the next government after the upcoming elections,” Fitch said in a report on Thursday. The Indian National Congress party, headed by Rahul Gandhi, has a fair chance of marshaling a coalition government, it added.

The BJP’s recent populist spending efforts, including a farmer income support program, will have a “minimal effect” on swinging voters to its side, the group said, adding that a deadly attack in Kashmir allows the ruling party to “drum up nationalistic sentiment and to rally the electorate behind the BJP.”

Modi’s party lost three state elections to the Congress party in December and various polls in India have shown declining support for Modi and the BJP. For example, a recent India Today poll predicted the ruling National Democratic Alliance coalition could fall short of the majority mark in India’s 543-seat parliament and win 237 seats, down from the 336 seats the grouping won in the 2014 federal election.

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