rime Minister Narendra Modi’s NDA government looks set to retain power, as trends emerging from vote counts across India indicated it would sweep the Lok Sabha election with a parliamentary majority of well over 300 seats.
Hundreds of millions of votes cast in a six-week-long election are being counted, but the declaration of final results is still a long way away.
Most exit polls broadcast on May 19 — the seventh and final day of voting — had the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), retaining power with a clear parliamentary majority.
But a number of senior opposition leaders dismissed the survey data — Mamata Banerjee, for example, described them as “gossip”.
For the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the Congress-led grouping vanquished so emphatically in 2014, the exit poll data painted a dreary picture: if the predictions are confirmed, the UPA will struggle to find even 150 wins.
Current trends have the UPA barely crossing the 100-seat mark.
Election analysts will pay particular attention to the three-way contest in Uttar Pradesh, home to the highest number of parliamentary seats in any Indian state: 80.
Results will show if a regional coalition of three parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, have managed to challenge the NDA, which won all but seven seats here in the 2014 election. So far, that does not appear to be the case — it is the NDA that looks headed for victory in over 50 seats.
The Congress is also in the fray in Uttar Pradesh, but is not part of the tripartite “mahagathbandhan”.
Campaigning for the Lok Sabha election was often acrimonious — politicians got personal at times while targeting their rivals. The Election Commission found itself under constant scrutiny; it drew the opposition’s criticism for a number of issues, including one election commissioner’s dissent against clean chits given to speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
Besides the results of the Lok Sabha election, we will also know the outcome of a number of state elections and bypolls today.