India’s exit polls show a majority for Modi’s BJP-led alliance in election

A summary of exit polls project the NDA could win between 355 and 380 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament.

A woman shows her index fingers marked with an indelible ink as she poses for a photograph next to a cutout portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after casting her vote in the seventh and final phase of India’s election, in Varanasi [Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP]Published On 1 Jun 20241 Jun 2024

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance is projected to win an emphatic majority in the general election, TV exit polls say, suggesting the right-wing party would do better than expected by most analysts.

Most exit polls on Saturday projected the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could win a two-thirds majority in the 543-member lower house of parliament, where 272 is needed for a simple majority.

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A summary of six exit polls projected the NDA could win between 355 and 380 seats, a number that is likely to boost financial markets when they reopen on Monday.

The NDA won 353 seats in the 2019 general election, of which BJP accounted for 303.

The six exit polls that gave the BJP-led NDA a clear majority are: Republic Bharat-P Marq (359), India News-D-Dyanamics (371), Republic Bharat-Matrize (353-368) Dainik Bhaskar (281-350), News Nation (342-378), and Jan Ki Baat (362-392), according to a report in India’s NDTV network.

Another exit poll from broadcaster CNN-News18 forecast the BJP and its coalition allies to win 355 seats.

The opposition INDIA alliance led by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party was projected to win more than 120 seats, according to the surveys that were broadcast after six weeks of voting concluded on Saturday.

A man leaves after casting his vote at a polling station in Faridkot, Punjab [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Exit polls, which are conducted by polling agencies, have a patchy record in India as they have often got the outcome wrong, with analysts saying it is a challenge to get them right in the large and diverse country.

The opposition dismissed the exit polls, and before their publication, called them “prefixed” following a meeting at the residence of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi earlier on Saturday.

Most opposition parties accuse India’s main news channels of being biased in favour of Modi, charges the channels have denied. They also say exit polls in India are mostly unscientific.

“This is a government exit poll, this is Narendra Modi’s exit poll,” Supriya Shrinate, the Congress’s social media head, told the ANI news agency. “We have a sense of how many seats we are winning.”

Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which governs the national capital territory of Delhi told the Press Trust of India the exit polls are “of the government and of the BJP”.

“Exit polls always show the BJP winning. In the meeting [of INDIA bloc], leaders have said that 295 seats are coming to INDIA alliance and we will form a government,” he said.

Nearly one billion people were eligible to vote in the seven-phase election that began on April 19 and was held in scorching summer heat in many parts.

The Election Commission will count votes on June 4 and results are expected the same day.

In his first comments after the voting ended, Modi claimed victory without referring to the exit polls.

“I can say with confidence that the people of India have voted in record numbers to re-elect the NDA government,” he said on X, without providing evidence of his claim. “The opportunistic INDI Alliance failed to strike a chord with the voters. They are casteist, communal and corrupt.”

A victory for Modi, 73, will make him only the second prime minister after independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru to win three consecutive terms.

Many in the prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi – which went to the polls on Saturday – said they were excited about the prospect of his return to power.

“I voted for growth and development of my country,” Varanasi resident Brijesh Taksali told the AFP news agency outside a polling station. “There’s only one leader that I know … Narendra Modi. I voted for him.”

Varanasi is an important temple town of the Hindu faith, where devotees from around India come to cremate deceased loved ones by the Ganges River.

But Janesar Akhtar, a Muslim clothesmaker working in Varanasi’s famed embroidery workshops, said the BJP’s sectarian campaigning was an unfortunate distraction from India’s chronic unemployment problems.

“Workshops here are closing down and the Modi government has been busy with the politics of temples and mosques,” the 44-year-old said. “He is supposed to give us jobs and not tensions.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies