Indian voters, by a margin of more than three-to-one, prefer the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead the next government over Congress, a new opinion poll suggests.

The findings come ahead of general elections scheduled to be held by May.

The Pew Research Center poll said 63 percent of Indians prefer the BJP to lead the next government, 19 percent prefer Congress and 12 percent support other parties. The support for BJP is consistent across age groups, the research found.

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Narendra Modi, a controversial politician battling accusations of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in his homestate of Gujarat in 2002, is the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. Modi has consistently denied any role in the riots that claimed hundreds of lives, mostly Muslims.

Pew, a Washington-based think tank, interviewed 2,464 randomly selected adults in states and territories that are home to roughly 91 percent of the Indian population. The poll, conducted between December 7 and January 12, has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

Modi, the chief minister of western Gujarat state for the past 11 years, is credited with turning his state into an industrial haven. But critics question whether the Hindu nationalist chief can be a truly secular leader over India's many cultures.

Rahul Gandhi, heir to the country's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, is leading the Congress party's struggling campaign.

The Congress party has been battered by corruption scandals, internal feuding and an inability to deal with a stumbling economy and deep-rooted problems with poverty, infrastructure and education.

Source: Aljazeera And Agencies