Exit Polls Suggest Modi Likely to be Re-Elected India's Prime Minister

Final round of voting underway in India's marathon elections

As the polling booths closed on Sunday marking an end to the seven-phased general elections, exit polls predicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA is coming back to power with a landslide victory.

Most major exit polls, conducted by local media, put the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Modi, and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition as winning a clear majority when results are announced on May 23.

Modi's BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win anything between 339-365 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament with the Congress-led opposition alliance getting only 77 to 108, an exit poll from India Today Axis showed on Sunday.

Mr Modi had to request special permission from the national poll watchdog for the trip as election rules prohibit any campaigning 48 hours before voting, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency said.

Over the last five years, the Modi government instituted a handful of economic reforms, rolled out schemes to assist poor Indians and launched a nationwide cleanliness drive. Maoist rebels killed 15 troops and their driver in the western state of Maharashtra on May 1, the latest attack in a decades-long insurgency.

While the election since April 11 has been largely peaceful, West Bengal state in eastern India is an exception.

Even though Modi's party won an unprecedented majority in the 2014 elections, numerous voters see these elections as a referendum to decide the fate of Mr Modi.

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Although support for the Congress had previously been in the minority, Gandhi's sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra joined and is campaigning for the party which has seen increased popularity among voters.

Modi visited West Bengal 17 times in an effort to make inroads with his Hindu nationalist agenda, provoking sporadic violence and prompting the Election Commission to cut off campaigning there. We have to wait for a final outcome to see who people are voting for. Modi's party backed a bill that would make it easier to deport millions of Bangladeshis who have migrated to India since Bangladesh's independence in 1971.

Voters were also up early in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state, where election workers arranged for drinking water, shade and fans to cool them down.

Undeniably a hefty task considering the astounding number of votes cast. However, he gained ground amid the escalation of the conflict with neighbouring Pakistan.

Congress and other opposition parties have challenged Modi over a high unemployment rate of 6.1% and the suffering of farmers affected by low crop prices.

A haphazard implementation of "one nation, one tax" - The Goods and Services Tax - also hit small and medium businesses. Observers expected that opposition parties would try to cobble together a coalition of their own if Modi's party stumbled.

All the votes will be counted on a single day, with the voting machines stored in strongrooms with guards and CCTV watching every move before the process begins on Thursday.


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