Indians vote in final stage of gruelling election campaign
20 May, 2019, 17:01
India's prime minister Narendra Modi look set to retain power at the head of a coalition government last night, after exit polls showed his Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies were on track to win a majority of seats in India's parliament.
While the final results of the votes will not be officially announced until May 23, multiple exit polls show that Modi will most likely secure his second five-year term as the Prime Minister after a strong performance by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in an epic clash with United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Rahul Gandhi from the Indian National Congress (INC) party.
One after the other exit poll predicted the victory to NDA or BJP on Sunday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being the centre of discussion and point of concentration.
Rajya Sabha member B K Hariprasad said the exit polls were the reflection of the wishes of news channels where Modi wave is prevalent.
Indian stock markets and the rupee were sharply higher on expectation the business-friendly Modi would stay on at the helm.
Four exit polls saw big wins for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), predicting that it would win anywhere between 280 and 315 seats, far more than the Congress party. The BJP won 72 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.
The 68-year-old leader went to scores of rallies across the country to fire up his Hindu base and turn the campaign into a debate on national security following the Balakot airstrikes.
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While the election since April 11 has been largely peaceful, West Bengal state in eastern India is an exception.
The BJP won 282 seats of parliament's 543 elected seats in its 2014 landslide triumph and with allies had 336 seats. On the one hand, KCR is known to be close to PM Modi, but in the last few weeks, his efforts to build support for his "Federal Front" have him convinced that most regional parties seem to want to support the Congress.
"People are divided for many reasons, we have to wait for a final outcome to see who people are voting for". Modi has issues to deal with neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh because his party backed a bill that would make it easier to deport millions of Bangladeshis who migrated to India since Bangladesh's independence in 1971. He also played up the threat of Pakistan, India's Muslim-majority neighbour and arch-rival, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on 14 February that killed 40 Indian soldiers.
The News 18-Ipsos survey gave the BJP 20 to 23 seats and the UPA is expected to win between five and eight seats.
Modi faced criticism early on in the campaign for failing to create jobs and for weak farm prices, and analysts as well as politicians said the election race was tightening with the main opposition Congress party gaining ground.
A Congress-led government would require a major electoral upset.
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