NEW DELHI, OCT. 24 -- At least 29 persons were killed today in clashes between Hindus and Moslems, and Prime Minister V. P. Singh said he will seek a vote of confidence on the religious issues dividing his nation.

The deaths came during a nationwide strike called by the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, whose defection has jeopardized the future of Singh's government.

{President Ramaswamy Venkataraman agreed to a request by Singh to call a special election, Reuter reported, quoting senior officials of Singh's party. The election, which likely would be in late December, would be called regardless of the outcome of a parliamentary vote of confidence, the officials said.}

Singh called Parliament to reconvene 10 days ahead of schedule, on Nov. 7, and predicted that he would muster the majority needed to keep his minority centrist government in power despite the loss of support from the Bharatiya Janata Party. But other members of the prime minister's Janata Dal party were less optimistic. "Only a miracle can save this government," said Chandra Shekhar, a veteran politician and frequent antagonist of Singh within the fractured Janata Dal.

Reports of violence during today's strike came from throughout the country. Clashes in Jaipur, the capital of the western state of Rajasthan, accounted for 18 deaths, United News of India said. News reports suggested the violence was sparked by clashes between Hindu activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Moslem residents.

The general strike was called to protest the arrest of party president Lal Krishna Advani on Tuesday while he was leading a campaign to replace a 16th-century mosque with a Hindu temple. The Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its support for Singh's government, ostensibly to protest the arrest and the government's vow to prevent the mosque's demolition.

Most of the deaths were the result of stabbings or gunfire by police in dozens of towns in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which are predominantly Hindu but have large Moslem populations. India's Moslem population of about 105 million is the second-largest in the world after Indonesia, but Moslems represent only 12 percent of the population.