Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set to return for a second term as counting trends point to the BJP-led NDA leading in over 340 of the total 542 seats for which counting was due to be completed late in the night.Suma Ramachandran
If counting trends hold true, the National Democratic Alliance will return to power, and possibly with more than the 336 seats it had in the previous Lok Sabha. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which had 282 seats, also looks set to increase its tally to beyond 300 despite losing several seats it had won in 2014.
The Opposition UPA, led by the Indian National Congress, also improved its performance from 44 in the 2014 elections, leading in 50 seats, but couldn't provide any real competition to the ruling alliance.
Only a handful of states bucked the pro-Modi wave: Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, where the Jaganmohan Reddy-led Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party was consistently leading in 24 out of 25 constituencies.
A little after 2.30 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to social media to promise growth and prosperity in a strong and inclusive India. "India wins yet again," he tweeted.
Incidentally, later in the evening, he removed the prefix "Chowkidar" from his Twitter handle. He had added it after launching the 'Main Bhi Chowkidar' campaign in mid-March in response to Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's repeated jibes of "Chowkidar Chor Hai" (the guard is the thief). Several BJP leaders and supporters had added the prefix to their Twitter handles to express solidarity with the PM.
The NDA's biggest gains came in states like Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal, much of the North East, Odisha, and Maharashtra.
Later, during a victory speech at the party headquarters in Delhi, he promised to devote "every moment" of his time and "every fibre" of his being for the people of India and said the country will now have only two castes -- the poor and those who want to alleviate poverty.
Modi told cheering supporters that the election has thrown up a mandate to build a new India as he dedicated the win to people.
"People are chanting Modi, Modi. But this is not a victory of Modi, it is the victory of people who are desperate for honesty in the system...It is not Modi's victory, but a win of people's hope and aspirations. This is the new India of 21st century," Modi said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi congratulated the Prime Minister and the BJP for the NDA's victory in the general elections. He said at a press conference in Delhi that his party would continue to fight the ideological battle with the saffron party.
And 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.
In Karnataka, home to India's startup ecosystem, the BJP scored a spectacular victory, winning 25 out of the the 28 total Lok Sabha seats, leaving the ruling Congress-JD(S) alliance in the dust and raising questions around its stability.
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.
In Bangalore, the sweep was completed: first-time candidate Tejasvi Surya defeated the Congress candidate in Bangalore South, a longtime BJP bastion. Union Minister DV Sadananda Gowda won Bangalore North, while Bangalore Central went to PC Mohan. Bangalore Central, however, went to D K Suresh of the Congress.
In Uttara Kannada, Union Minister Ananthkumar Hegde retained his seat, as did Shobha Karandjale in Udupi-Chikmagalur.
In Delhi, the BJP won six seats and was set to win the seventh.
The action replay continued further north in Uttarakhand, where the BJP retained all five seats, and in Himachal Pradesh, where it retained all four.
In neighbouring Haryana too, the BJP swept all 10 Lok Sabha seats, upsetting two incumbents from the Indian National Lok Dal and one from the Congress.
Just south, Rajasthan too voted unanimously for the BJP, helping it win all 25 seats. It was a similar story in Gujarat where the party notched up victories in all 26 constituencies.
Chhattisgarh, which voted out a BJP government in December 2018, gave the party nine out of 11 seats, with the remaining two going to the Congress.
Madhya Pradesh, which too had voted out the BJP in the Assembly elections six months back, gave it 28 seats, leaving just one to the Congress.
Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for a staggering 80 Lok Sabha seats, saw the Congress retain just one seat - Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareilly. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi ceded Amethi - a longtime bastion - Union Minister Smriti Irani of the BJP though the final tally was yet to be released. The party was slated to win a total of 62 seats, Apna Dal (S) two, BSP 11, and the Samajwadi Party six.
Next door in Bihar, the party won 17 seats, neck and neck with its ally, the ruling Janata Dal (U) which won in 16 constituencies. The Congress managed just one seat while NDA member Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Jan Shakti Party won six seats.
Maharashra too were trending towards an NDA majority with the BJP and its ally the Shiv Sena putting in impressive performances. Final results were expected late in the night.
The BJP also won three surprise seats in Telangana, and was slated win a fourth. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti won nine seats.
In Odisha, it increased its tally to 8 seats but trailed the ruling Biju Janata Dal which won 12 seats.
In West Bengal, the BJP gave the Trinamool Congress a run for its money, set to win 18 out of 42 seats. The ruling party was on course to win 22 seats, leaving the Congress just two possible seats to win.
In Assam, the BJP was on course to win nine seats, leaving the remaining five to other parties. Arunachal Pradesh too voted for the BJP in the two Lok Sabha seats it has.
Of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the grounds of excessive use of money power. The poll panel is yet to announce a fresh date for elections in Vellore. This time's general elections also recorded a voter turnout of over 67 percent, the highest ever.
Messages of congratulations began pouring in for the PM, both from within the BJP and its allies as well as from other quarters. Superstar Rajinikanth was one of the first to take to social media to congratulate Modi.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first world leader to congratulate Modi for scripting an "impressive victory" in the general elections and vowed to strengthen their "great friendship" as well as bilateral ties.
Late in the night, US President Donald Trump too congratulated the Prime Minister on his "big" election victory and said "great things" are in store for the bilateral strategic ties under the Indian Prime Minister's second innings.
NDA leading in 343 with the BJP ahead in 287 seats
UPA leading in 91 with the Congress leading in 53 seats
Others leading in 108 seats
In Karnataka, the BJP has raced ahead of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition by leading in 23 out of total 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state, according to updates from the Election Commission's website. Several stalwarts
PTI reports that former Prime Minister and JD(S) patriarch H D DeveGowda was trailing in Tumakuru against BJP's G S Basavaraj by a margin of 5,026 votes.
Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who has remained unassailable electorally in his several decades-long political career, is also trailing in Gulbarga against former party colleague, Umesh Jadhav of the BJP by 10,299 votes.
Union ministers D V Sadananda Gowda (Bangalore North), Ramesh Jigajinagi (Bijapur) and Ananthkumar Hegde (Uttara Kannada) are leading over their opponents.
The Election Commission's website showed the following trends at the same time.
BJP: Leading in 292 seats
Congress: Leading in 50 seats
Trinamool Congress: Leading in 24 seats
DMK: leading in 22 seats
Shiv Sena: Leading in 20 seats
Janata Dal (U): Leading in 16 seats
Biju Janata Dal: Leading in 14 seats
YS-RCP: Leading in 24 seats
Results for the Assembly elections in four states - Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim - are also due in today.
Andhra Pradesh: YS-RCP-led was leading in 147 out of 175 seats for which trends were available.
The Telugu Desam Party trailed with a lead in just 26 seats.
The Congress and the BJP are not leading in any seats.
In Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal looks set to return to power, leading in 100 of the 146 seats. The BJP was a very distant second with a lead in just 27 seats. The Congress was leading in 16 seats.
Among regional parties, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress was leading in 25 constituencies, Odisha's Biju Janata Dal in 11 and the Jaganmohan Reddy-led Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party in 24 seats in Andhra Pradesh.
In the previous Lok Sabha, the AIADMK had 44 seats, the Trinamool Congress 33, the Biju Janata Dal and Shiv Sena 18 each, and the Telugu Desam Party 15.
India’s benchmark indices opened at record highs, with the BSE Sensex crossing 40,000 and the NSE Nifty crossing 12,000. They continue to trade around those levels. As we wrote yesterday, markets love stability and the counting trends so far reflect the broad trends thrown up by the exit polls earlier this week. They predicted a win for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The NDA is expected to return to power, with polls suggesting a win between 280 and 365 seats.
NDA leading in 343 with the BJP ahead in 288 seats
UPA leading in 88 with the Congress leading in 51 seats
Others leading in 111 seats
The Election Commission's website showed the following trends at the same time.
BJP: Leading in 282 seats
Congress: Leading in 51 seats
Trinamool Congress: Leading in 22 seats
DMK: leading in 22 seats
Shiv Sena: LEading in 19 seats
Janata Dal (U): Leading in 15 seats
If you’re reading this, it means you’re one of the few people not (yet) glued to a TV set, waiting to see how the elections results unfold. Will the incumbents return, or will we see a new government? And what happens if we have a hung Parliament? Or if a bunch of parties with no pre-poll alliance cobble together an alliance and stake a claim to form the government?
It’s what every Indian is waiting to find out. Counting began at 8.00 am. And unlike in 2014, some reports say that because voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips need to be counted, the trends may not emerge until later this evening and final results could well be delayed till much late in the night.
The electronic voting machines (EVMs) used in the polling process have been under the scanner in the past too. But this time around, the controversy has snowballed.
The scale of the counting exercise is huge. With a 67 percent average voter turnout, there are over 600 million votes to be counted from 1.72 million EVMs. Votes will also be tallied from five random VVPATs from each constituency but not before the votes from the EVMs have been counted.
The Opposition, however, wanted the Election Commission (EC) to count the VVPAT slips first. Even former President Pranab Mukherjee expressed his concerns. The EC, however, rejected the demand, following which more than 20 parties said they would launch a mass agitation. This led the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue an alert to the Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all states and Union Territories regarding possible violence in different parts of the country.
The MHA also asked them to ensure there was enough security around the strong rooms where EVMs have been stored and the locations where votes will be counted. Section 144 has been imposed in several cities, including Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kanpur, and large parts of West Bengal to counter any chances of violence.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain. Today is a day of reckoning. Never before have we had an election campaign where the campaigning has plumbed new depths. Over the past few days too, accusations have been flying thick and fast. And it’s not just the politicians who have a view. Just look up #ElectionResults2019 on social media and you’ll find a whole bunch of posts where people have put out their detailed predictions – not just who will come to power, but entire tables, state-wise!
(Stay tuned for our coverage on the results as they emerge. We will keep this post updated.)
(With inputs from PTI.)