Hyderabad: The ruling Congress party in Andhra Pradesh may retain power as it was inching towards a majority in the state assembly.
The results and trends at noon show the party bagged 27 seats and is ahead in 115 constituencies. The trends for all 294 assembly seats were available. The party needs 148 for a simple majority.
The opposition four-party alliance led by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) won 20 seats and was leading in 102 more.
Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of superstar Chiranjeevi got two seats and was ahead in 18.
Others, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), won two seats and were ahead in 14.
The initial trends indicated that the state was heading for its first-ever hung assembly but the ruling party improved its position as the counting progressed.
The Congress appears to be retaining power in the state for the first time since formation of the TDP in 1982.
Even if the Congress party falls a few seats short of the halfway mark, it may get them from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which is leading in six assembly constituencies in the state capital.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member V Hanumantha Rao hoped the PRP and the two Left parties would also extend their support to the Congress.
The Congress has done well despite the defeat of several heavyweights including state unit chief D Srinivas, assembly speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy and three ministers.
The TDP-led alliance has performed far below its expectations. The TDP, which had lost power to Congress in 2004 polls, had hoped to return to power with an alliance with Telangana Rastra Samiti (TRS), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).Congress claims victory as UPA tops India's battle for power
TRS, which fought 45 assembly and nine Lok Sabha seats in Telangana region, is not doing well.
As for PRP, superstar Chiranjeevi himself was trailing in Palacole assembly segment in his native West Godavari district, though he was ahead in Tirupati.
In the 2004 elections, Congress had bagged 185 assembly seats on its own. Its allies, including the TRS, CPI and CPI-M had won 40 seats. The TDP could get only 45 seats that time.