India elections: BJP's Narendra Modi set to become next PM, according to exit polls

Asia Correspondent

The controversial chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, is set to become India’s next prime minister, if exit polls published after voting closed are correct. The polls, which have been wildly off in the past, suggest the ruling Congress party will suffer its worst ever result.

After India completed its ninth and final day of voting on Monday, a flurry of polls predicted Mr Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are going to comfortably manage to form the next government.

While they predict he alone will get a little short of a clear majority, once the BJP’s traditional partners in the so-called National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition are included, he will pass more than 272 seats – half of the total 543 seats. The official result is to be announced on Friday.

“History will remember the 2014 elections as historic and marking a paradigm shift from conventional electioneering,” Mr Modi said in a post on social media. “Normally, the party in power sets the agenda of the campaign but for the first time it was not the case. Far from setting the agenda, the ruling party was neither proactive nor responsive.”

The News X channel suggested the ruling Congress party will win as few as 78 seats and its coalition 101. It said the BJP would secure 251 seats and the NDA as many as 289. Meanwhile, the Headlines Today channel said the Congress coalition would get 115 seats and the NDA 272. A poll by the CNN-IBN channel predicted the BJP will win as many as 45-53 out of a total of 80 seats in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh alone. It currently has just ten.

While the news channels embarked on a detailed scrutiny of the various local contests and regional battles across India, the overarching theme of the series of polls was of a clear win for the 63-year-old Mr Modi.

“Historically the exit polls have tended to overestimate the performance of the BJP compared to the Congress. But even when this is factored in, the big take-away is that there will likely be a stable, BJP-led government,” said Milan Vaishnav, a South Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington.

Few were surprised by this. Most analysts agreed that Mr Modi effectively seized the momentum during the many months of electioneering across India, holding more than 400 rallies and traversing thousands of miles.

During his campaign, he repeatedly pushed the message of development and jobs, even while some of his BJP colleagues continued to stir communal tension. While many Muslims refused to vote for him because of the killing of hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, lots of voters were attracted by his aspirational, modern campaign.

By contrast, the ruling Congress party, whose lacklustre campaign was headed by Rahul Gandhi, had equally been expected to do badly. After ten years in power, the most recent of them seen as drifting and ineffectual, the party has been facing a widespread sentiment of anti-incumbency.

Yet for all the smiling faces of BJP leaders beaming from the television screens on Monday evening, some voices urged caution. Election surveys in India have in the past been disastrously wrong, most dramatically in the 2004 general election when it was widely predicted the BJP would hold on to power on the back of its “Shining India” campaign. As it was, they were defeated by Congress.

Figures showed that the turnout for the election to select India’s 16th government since securing independence in 1947, was 66 per cent - a record. It bettered the previous high of 64 per cent, recorded in the 1984-85 election, when Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi rode a sympathy wave to come to power after the assassination of his mother, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Among the contests being decided on the final day of voting was the constituency of Varanasi, an ancient city on the Ganges river that is sacred to Hindus and one of two seats from where Mr Modi competed. He was being directly challenged in Varanasi by 41 other candidates, perhaps most forcefully by Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of a new, grass-roots party that has campaigned against corruption

Observers say the election was particularly hard fought. Mr Modi and Mr Gandhi often traded personal barbs. The BJP leader contrasted Mr Modi’s privileged upbringing as part of the Nehru-Gandhi family, with his own relatively impoverished background in small-town Gujarat.

Meanwhile, Mr Gandhi claimed Mr Modi, long tarnished over the massacre of hundreds of Muslims in Gujarat while he was chief minister, would destroy the secular foundation of India.

Over the weekend, the Congress and the BJP traded final attacks ahead of the last day of polling. At a rally in Varanasi, Mr Gandhi claimed Mr Modi’s speeches were full of anger. He added: “But India works on love and not on anger. India is for everybody. It is for Hindus, Muslims, Sikh and Christians. It belongs to every caste and community, poor and rich people and it will remain for everybody.”

The BJP complained that Mr Modi had been prevented by election officials from holding a major rally in the city ahead of polling. “Why was the Rahul roadshow permitted when Mr Modi was denied permission in the same area,” said senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn