India election results 2019 BJP takes early lead in epic poll
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party has taken an early lead as votes are counted after the country’s marathon general election.
Mr Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in 2014, looks on course to keep his commanding majority.
He was up against a resurgent main opposition Congress party and powerful regional rivals across the country.
Counting began at 08:00 local time (02:30GMT) after six bitterly fought weeks of voting ended on Sunday.
Exit polls have predicted a win for Mr Modi, but analysts warn they have often been wrong in the past.
This election is seen as a referendum on Mr Modi, a polarizing figure adored by many but also blamed for increasing divisions in India.
A party or coalition needs at least 272 seats to secure a majority in the 543-member lower house of parliament, or Lok Sabha.
In 2014, the BJP captured 282 seats – the biggest victory by any party in 30 years. The Congress, which won just 44, suffered its worst defeat.
This year, there were 900 million voters eligible to take part in seven rounds of voting, making it the largest election the world had ever seen.
The fate of more than 8,000 candidates and some 670 political parties hangs on the ballot.
Results will be released in phases by the Election Commission – a picture of who is winning could emerge within hours, or it could take longer depending on how close the race is.
Final results are not expected until late on Thursday local time, or early Friday. Extra checks matching printed ballots against electronic voting machine results could delay the process.
“It’s a huge mandate for positive politics and the policies of Narendra Modi,” said GVL Narasimha Rao, a BJP spokesman. “It’s a huge win for India. We are humbled by the magnificence of this victory.”
BJP supporter are celebrate their victory