Lok Sabha Election Results 2024: India begins counting votes

NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party showed a comfortable lead on Tuesday, according to preliminary data from the Election Commission of India, but faced a stronger-than-expected challenge from the opposition.

Counting More than 640 million votes In the world’s biggest democracy exercise, which has been held for the past six weeks and is expected to last all day, Modi is widely expected to be elected to a third five-year term. Final result is announced.

If the 73-year-old Modi wins, it will be the second time an Indian leader has retained power for a third term after the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Four hours into counting, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is comfortably ahead of the main opposition Congress, according to the Election Commission.

According to preliminary data, BJP has won 240 out of 542 constituencies without a single contest. Congress is leading in 94 constituencies.

Modi’s NDA has 287 seats, leading the opposition Indian AllianceThe Congress party and its main campaign leader, Rahul Gandhi, led at 225.

The Election Commission did not release data on how many votes were cast, but counting continued throughout the day and preliminary figures were expected to change.

Exit polls over the weekend had predicted the NDA to win over 350 seats. Indian markets, which hit all-time highs on Monday, fell sharply in midday trade on Tuesday, with key stock indices NIFTY 50 and BSE Sensex – both down more than 7%.

About 642 million People voted In the elections, the average voter turnout in the seven phases was 66%, according to official data.

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India was sweltering as voters went to the polls, with temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in parts of India. Chief Election Commissioner Rajeev Kumar said officials have learned a valuable lesson. “We should have completed the elections at least a month ago,” he said. “We shouldn’t let it continue to overheat.”

Temperatures were slightly cooler for Tuesday’s vote count, but election officials and political parties still took precautions, pumping out large amounts of water and installing evaporative coolers for people outside polling buildings and party headquarters.

On Tuesday, BJP workers performed Hindu rituals outside the party’s office in New Delhi shortly after the counting of votes began. Meanwhile, at the Congress party headquarters, supporters turned up enthusiastically and raised slogans in praise of Gandhi, the party’s campaign face.

Modi has changed in 10 years of rule Political landscape of India. His popularity exceeds that of his party, and has made a parliamentary election akin to a presidential-style campaign. As local politicians recede into the background even in state elections, the BJP is increasingly relying on Modi’s enduring brand to stay in power.

“Modi is not just the prime campaigner, but the only campaigner of this election,” said public policy scholar Yamini Iyer.

His supporters see him as a self-made and strong leader who has improved India’s standing in the world and credited his pro-business policies with making the economy the fifth largest in the world.

But his decade-long leadership has left the country deeply divided. Modi’s critics and detractors are his opinion Hindu to politics It has fostered intolerance, hate speech and brazen attacks against the country’s minorities, especially Muslims who make up 14% of the population.

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India’s fast-growing economy has become more unequal under Modi. As stock markets hit record highs and millionaires abound, youth unemployment soars Only a small fraction of Indians Benefiting from the economic boom.

The country’s democracy, Modi’s critics say, is faltering under his government, which has increasingly used strong-arm tactics to suppress political opponents, suppress free media and crack down on dissent. The government rejects such allegations and says democracy is flourishing.

When polling began in mid-April, the initially optimistic BJP Focused the campaign “Modi’s assurances” highlight the economic and welfare achievements his party claims have reduced poverty. Under his leadership, “India will become a developed nation by 2047,” Modi repeated at rally after rally.

But the campaign became increasingly heated, with more polarizing rhetoric targeting Modi. Muslim minoritiesA ploy to galvanize his core Hindu majority electorate.

The Indian Alliance, led by his opposition Congress Party, has been attacked by Modi’s Hindu nationalist politics. It hopes to benefit from simmering economic discontent, and its campaign has rallied around issues of unemployment, inflation and inequality.

But the broad coalition of more than a dozen political parties is beset by ideological differences and defections, raising questions over their effectiveness. Meanwhile, the coalition also said they were Unfairly targeted, they say raids, arrests and corruption investigations against their leaders by federal agencies are politically motivated. The government has denied this.

Another win would cement Modi as one of the country’s most popular and important leaders. In 2019, the BJP will continue its landslide victory when it wins 303 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies.

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AP reporter David Rising contributed to this story.

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