India's ruling Congress party, which has been battered by corruption scandals, is heading for a much-needed victory in elections in a key southern state.

The party appears likely to wrest power from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka state, according to partial results. The voting was being watched as a possible bellwether for next year's national elections.

The election commission said the Congress party had won or was leading in 120 of the state's 224 constituencies as of Wednesday afternoon. The BJP had won or was leading in only 39, with the rest going to other parties.

Salman Khurshid, a top Congress leader, said the outcome "has given us a great shot in the arm."

The state's capital, Bangalore, is the country's information technology hub.