Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling alliance led by right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to win a majority in parliament in the mammoth Indian general election that ended on Sunday, exit polls show.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win 287 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament, called the Lok Sabha, followed by 128 for the Indian National Congress party-led opposition alliance, CVoter exit poll said on Sunday.
According to another poll released by Times Now television, Modi’s alliance is likely to get 306 seats, a clear majority. The network projected 142 seats for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Indian National Congress.
Another news channel, Sudarshan News, has given 313 seats to the NDA 313 and 121 to the UPA. To rule, a party needs the support of 272 legislators. Votes are to be counted on Thursday.
One poll by Neta Newsx, though, forecast Modi’s alliance falling 30 seats short of majority.
Exit polls have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900 million people.
The exit polls were released minutes after India concluded its mammoth seven-phase national elections, which began on April 11. The votes will be counted on May 23.
As the final polling booths closed at 1230 GMT, a huge security cordon was thrown around the voting machines and boxes of paper votes used in the 542 seats for the world’s biggest election.
Modi’s constituency in Varanasi, the holy city in Uttar Pradesh state, was also among those to vote.
Critics say Modi has stoked fear among the country’s Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the country’s Muslims and Pakistan, and promoted a Hindu-first India.
But Modi’s supporters say the prime minister and his allies are simply restoring Hinduism to its rightful place at the core of Indian society.
The opposition, led by the Indian National Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi, have accused him of pursuing divisive policies, neglecting the economy and leaving many farmers in ruin.
Gandhi, 48, tried several lines of attack against Modi, in particular over alleged corruption in a French defence deal and over the plight of farmers and on the economy.
Modi’s government fell short on creating jobs for the million Indians entering the labour market every month, the shock introduction of a currency ban in 2016, while Indian banks struggle with huge bad debts.
New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies estimates that the outlay on this election could top $7bn, making it one of the priciest contests globally – with the lion’s share of the spending by the BJP.