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India's ruling coalition makes gains

Washington Post

NEW DELHI - India's beleaguered ruling coalition received a boost Friday as it notched up victories in three out of four key states when votes were counted after monthlong state elections.

The state votes do not immediately affect the national coalition government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but many here view them as a collective referendum ahead of national elections expected in 2014.

Analysts said victories by the ruling Congress party, as well as the resounding defeat of one party tainted by corruption scandals, could give Singh more freedom to act against allies accused of serious financial wrongdoing.

In the eastern state of West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress party won a landslide victory, ending 34 years of rule by a group of Communist parties. The Trinamool Congress party is allied with Singh's party.

Singh's party won in the eastern state of Assam and defeated the ruling Communists in Kerala, in the south. But in Tamil Nadu, a southern state closely watched by antigraft crusaders, and in the federally governed coastal city of Puducherry, an alliance between the Congress party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party was defeated. Congress and the DMK have been battered in the past eight months by a string of corruption scandals.