The political fortunes of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appeared to take a turn for the better yesterday as results began coming in from state elections in southern and eastern regions of India.

In particular, results from the southern state of Karnataka indicated candidates from Gandhi's party were inflicting massive defeats on her rivals, and that she would win the state as a power base for future political operations, Washington Post special correspondent Simon Winchester reported.

Results from four other states and one special category region near the Indochinese border are not expected until later, and analysts do not expect Gandhi's breakaway group to do especially well. But the scale of her apparent victory in Karnataka took specialists by surprise, and figures from Andhra Pradesh, Mahrashtra. Assam and Meghalaya, may indicate a similar trend.

Gandhi's political future appeared in doubt eight weeks ago when she announced her candidates would run in the elections. She had split from the "official" Congress Party, and had been asked to leave her party headquarters in New Delhi. She also had been forbidden the use of the revered Cow and Calf symbol that had been hers for a decade.

In Karnataka, she had to run a campaign headed by a colleague, Devraj Urs, who was under investigation on charges of political corruption.

Yet it appears from early results that she has managed to pull off a significant comeback. Urs won his own seat, and of the first 113 precincts reporting, her supporters had won 74 seats, the ruling Janata Party 38, and the "official" Congress Party only a single seat.