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India's marathon election ends as exit polls suggest Modi re-election

Siddhartha Kumar and Sunrita Sen, DPA on

Published in News & Features

NEW DELHI -- India's six-weeklong parliamentary election came to a close Sunday, with most exit polls predicting a clear win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The elections, the world's biggest, with an electorate of 902 million, began on April 11 and were held over seven phases.

Counting for all phases is due on Thursday and the results are expected the same day or by early Friday.

Exit polls suggested that 68-year-old Modi was headed for a second term as prime minister, with his BJP-led National Democratic Alliance projected to win between 287 to 306 seats in the 545-member parliament.

Its rival, the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance is likely to secure between 128 to 132 seats. The rest of the seats would be won by strong regional parties.

A political party or coalition needs at least 272 seats to claim a majority in the parliament.

 

Political analysts warn that India's exit polls have a reputation for being inaccurate given the size and complexity of the electorate.

The exit polls were somewhat in line with pre-election surveys when pollsters predicted the BJP and its allies is expected to return to power but with a reduced tally compared to the last elections when it got 336 seats.

During the elections spanning April and May, Modi's BJP battled it out with the Congress party as well as a number of powerful, smaller, regional parties.

The elections are being seen as a referendum on Modi, whose party swept to power with a resounding majority in the last elections, promising to revive a stagnant economy and create jobs.

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