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Indian Election Dates Set

January 1, 1998

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Parliamentary elections will be held in India over four days ending March 7, giving a new government less than a week to form, settle in and meet the deadline for voting on the nation’s annual budget.

Polling would be held Feb. 16, 22 and 28 and March 7, Election Commission officials said today. With more than 600 million eligible voters, polling is often staggered in India so organizers can deploy workers and security in stages.

Ballot counting would begin March 8. A new Parliament must be in place in time to meet the March 15 deadline for voting on the budget.

No party won a majority in the last elections, held in May 1996, and ideological differences and competing ambitions led to parliament’s dissolution last month. No party is expected to get the simple majority in the 545-member house needed to govern alone in this year’s election either.

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