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DATE=4/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248526 TITLE=INDIA POLITICS (L-UPDATE) BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: INDIA'S CONGRESS PARTY HAS BEEN GIVEN ONE MORE CHANCE TO FORM A GOVERNMENT. EARLY FRIDAY THE CONGRESS PARTY APPEARED TO HAVE FAILED TO GET THE NECESSARY VOTES FOR A MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT. VOA'S JIM TEEPLE REPORTS IF THE CONGRESS PARTY CANNOT ACHIEVE A MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT, EARLY ELECTIONS COULD BE THE RESULT. TEXT: SONIA GANDHI -- THE ITALIAN-BORN WIDOW OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER RAJIV GANDHI -- MET WITH INDIA'S PRESIDENT K.R. NARAYANAN FRIDAY NIGHT TO ASK FOR MORE TIME TO GET THE 272 VOTES SHE NEEDS TO FORM A GOVERNMENT. INDIA'S PRESIDENT HAS TO APPROVE ANY NEW GOVERNMENT. MRS. GANDHI, THE LEADER OF THE CONGRESS PARTY SAYS SHE HAS LETTERS OF SUPPORT FOR 233 VOTES AND WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE REST SOON. SHE SAYS THE PRESIDENT GRANTED HER REQUEST BUT SHE DOES NOT HAVE MUCH TIME. // INSERT GANDHI ACTUALITY // I HAVE BEEN TOLD TO DO WHATEVER WE HAVE TO DO AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. // END ACTUALITY // IN AN APPARENT SHIFT FROM HER EARLIER POSITION, MRS. GANDHI DID NOT RULE OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A COALITION GOVERNMENT. PREVIOUSLY SHE HAS SAID THE CONGRESS PARTY WOULD ONLY FORM A GOVERNMENT ON ITS OWN. EARLIER ON FRIDAY, SONIA GANDHI'S EFFORTS TO FORM A GOVERNMENT WERE DEALT A SERIOUS BLOW WHEN ONE OF HER ALLIES, MULAYAM SINGH YADAV, THE LEADER OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY, SAID HE WOULD NOT SUPPORT THE CONGRESS PARTY BECAUSE THE PARTY HAD NOT WORKED HARD ENOUGH FOR INDIA'S LOWER CASTES AND MINORITIES. MEANWHILE MEMBERS OF PRIME MINISTER VAJPAYEE'S BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY SAY THEY ARE STILL THE LARGEST PARTY IN PARLIAMENT AND SHOULD BE GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE TO FORM A GOVERNMENT. YASHWANT SINHA, INDIA'S FINANCE MINISTER, SAYS HE HOPES PRESIDENT NARAYANAN WILL ACCEPT THE B-J-P'S ARGUMENT. // INSERT SINHA ACTUALITY // I THINK OUR STRATEGY IS TO PROVE TO THE PRESIDENT AND THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY THAT THIS COMBINATION IS THE ONLY ONE WHICH CAN PROVIDE A STABLE GOVERNMENT TO THE COUNTRY. THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN SAYING AND WE HOPE THAT THE PRESIDENT WILL BE ABLE TO SEE OUR POINT OF VIEW. // END ACTUALITY // INDIA'S PRESIDENT HAS BEEN MEETING WITH CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERTS TO DETERMINE WHAT TO DO IF NO NEW GOVERNMENT CAN BE FORMED. WHILE MANY POLITICIANS SAY THEY WANT TO AVOID NEW ELECTIONS, MANY ARE ALSO SAYING ELECTIONS MAY BE THE ONLY WAY TO END THE CRISIS. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/ENE/KL 23-Apr-99 12:50 PM EDT (1650 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .