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 elections that ended on Sunday, exit polls show.
Several early exit polls released by Indian media on Sunday predicted the BJP will lose seats but with allies would still secure a majority of the 542 seats fought.
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anywhere between 287 to 306 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament, called the Lok Sabha, at least four exit polls showed.
The opposition Indian National Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was predicted to more than double its 2014 tally of 44 seats by winning anywhere between 128 to 132 seats.
The CVoter exit poll said the NDA is projected to win 287 seats, followed by 128 for the UPA.
Another exit poll released by Times Now television, Modi’s alliance is likely to win 306 seats, a clear majority, while the network projected 142 seats for the UPA.
Another TV channel, Sudarshan News, projected 313 seats to the NDA and 121 to the UPA. To rule, a party needs the support of 272 legislators. Votes are to be counted on Thursday.
News18India-IPSOS poll said the Modi-led NDA will win 336 seats, while the UPA will be reduced to just 82.
One exit poll by Neta NewsX, however, forecast Modi’s alliance falling 30 seats short of the majority mark of 272.
Exit polls, which have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900 million people, were released minutes after India concluded its mammoth seven-phase national elections, which began on April 11.
As the final polling booths closed at 12:30 GMT, a huge security cordon was thrown around the voting machines and boxes of paper votes used in the vote for 542 seats in 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, news agency AFP said.