While the final results may trickle in late into the evening, the afternoon was marked by shock defeats of some of the biggest names in Indian politics. Stay tuned for updates.Suma Ramachandran
Counting of the 600+ million votes started at 8.00 am this morning and it was just a matter of hours before it was clear that the BJP-led NDA was coming back to power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been voted in for a second term.
Here's a quick look at the biggest winners and losers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to stand from just one constituency this time around - Varanasi - and was voted back with a margin of more than 4.5 lakh votes. Congratulations poured in from world leaders, including Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, the UAE's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. The Prime Ministers of Australia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and the Maldives also sent their congratulations, as did French President Emmanuel Macron. US lawmakers sent their wishes later in the evening.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had hedged his bets across the Congress bastion of Amethi and Wayanad in Kerala. He won the constituency in Kerala by a margin of over 4.31 lakh votes. While the Election Commission was yet to declare the results for Amethi, Rahul Gandhi conceded the seat to his BJP rival and Union Minister Smriti Irani at a press conference in the evening.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was the sole winner for her party in Uttar Pradesh, defeating her BJP rival Dinesh Pratap Singh by 1.67 lakh votes.
BJP President Amit Shah – widely acknowledged as the architect of the 2014 victory – won by a margin of over 5.57 lakh votes from Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Shah received a hero’s welcome at the party headquarters in the afternoon, with party workers showering him with flowers. Gandhinagar has long been a BJP bastion, with former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani having won it six times, the last in 2014 when he won by 4.3 lakh votes.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh scored an easy victory in Lucknow, defeating first-time candidate Poonam Sinha, wife of former BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha who joined the Congress. (Sinha himself lost to Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP in Patna Sahib who won by 2.84 lakh votes.)
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia lost Guna in an upset defeat to the BJP's Krishna Pal Singh by a margin of over 1.2 lakh votes. Scindia was the sitting MP from Guna in Madhya Pradesh which has more often than not sent a member of Gwalior's erstwhile royal family, starting with his grandmother, Vijayaraje Scindia, who first won it in 1957 as an MP of the Jan Sangh (which eventually evolved into the BJP). The seat moved to the Congress when her son, Madhavrao Scindia became a member of the Congress and was a nine-time MP before his death in a plane crash in 2001.
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP's Sadhvi Pragya Thakur defeated senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh in Bhopal, another BJP stronghold, by nearly 3 lakh votes.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh of the BJP scored another easy victory over JNU student leader and CPI candidate from Begusarai, Bihar, Kanhaiya Kumar.
Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the 2004 Athens Olympics silver medallist, defeated discus thrower Krishna Poonia, who fought on a Congress ticket in Jaipur Rural.
In Karnataka, where the BJP looks to be winning 25 out of a total 28 seats, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge lost to BJP's Umesh Jadhav in Gulbarga. This was the first time Kharge has lost an election in his decades-long career.
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda (JD-S) was another casualty of the saffron wave sweeping through Karnataka, losing from Tumakuru. His grandson, Nikhil, son of state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, lost in Mandya. Gowda had moved out of Hassan, which proved to be the saving grace for the family. The seat - the only victor for the JD-S in the state - went to another grandson, Prajwal Revanna, son of state PWD Minister HD Revanna.
Former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti lost Anantnag to National Conference candidate Hasnanin Masoodi.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi of the BJP won from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, defeating BSP candidate Chandra Bhadra Singh Sonu by over 14,000 votes. Her son, Feroze Varun Gandhi, also of the BJP, won her old stronghold of Pilibhit, defeating Hemraj Verma of the Samajwadi Party by over 2.5 lakh votes.
Also in UP, Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav has won Mainpuri seat by defeating BJP candidate Prem Singh Shakya by over 94,000 votes. His son, former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav was leading by 2.5 lakh votes in Azamgarh.
In Kerala, where the Congress put up credible gains, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor retained the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, defeating the BJP's Kummanam Rajashekharan.
First-time BJP candidate and Bollywood megastar Sunny Deol won Gurdaspur in Punjab by a margin of 70,000 votes. He replaces another star, Vinod Khanna of the BJP, who lost his battle with cancer a few months ago. Deol defeated the incumbent Congress MP Sunil Jakhar.
Former cricketer Gautam Gambhir, contesting on a BJP ticket, won the East Delhi seat, defeating his nearest rival, Congress' Arvinder Singh Lovely, by 3.91 lakh votes. Atishi Marlena, the AAP candidate and widely credited with having transformed health and education in the capital, finished third.
Actor and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar was slated to lose Fatehpur Sikri to the BJP, given that he was trailing by over 4.5 lakh votes.
Actor and BJP candidate Hema Malini retained her Mathura seat, defeating candidates from the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal. Her actor husband Dharmendra, himself once an MP for the BJP from Bikaner, congratulated her much earlier in the day after trends showed that she was leading.
Singer and Union Minister Babul Supriyo of the BJP retained his Asansol seat in West Bengal, defeating actor Moon Moon Sen of the Trinamool Congress.
World Championship bronze medallist Vijender Singh, who quit his Haryana police job to contest on a Congress ticket in South Delhi, lost to BJP's Ramesh Bidhuri and AAP's Raghav Chadha, who finished second.
BJP candidate for Rampur (UP) Jaya Prada was trailing her Samajwadi Party rival Azam Khan.
Actor Urmila Matondkar, who recently joined the Congress, was trailing in Mumbai North.
(This story will be updated as additional results are released. Last updated: 11.15 pm.)