India’s Modi set for big win after surprise exit polls

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India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is to meet coalition partners to discuss a new government, two BJP sources said yesterday, after exit polls predicted a clear general election victory for the party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The talks will be this afternoon at the BJP’s headquarters in New Delhi and will be led by the party president, Amit Shah, one of the party sources said. The sources declined to be identified as they are not authorized to speak about the meeting. Nalin Kohli, a spokesman for the BJP, declined to comment.

India’s seven-phase general election, billed as the world’s biggest democratic exercise, began on April 11 and ended on Sunday. Votes will be counted on Thursday and results are likely the same day. 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. A party needs 272 seats to command a majority. The predicted BJP margin of victory is bigger than opinion polls indicated in the run-up to the vote, when most surveys showed the NDA would be the largest alliance but would fall short of an overall majority. Modi and his BJP faced criticism in the run-up to the election over unemployment, in particular for failing to provide opportunities to young people coming onto the job market, and for weak farm prices. But Modi rallied his Hindu nationalist base and made national security a central theme of the campaign after a surge in tension with Pakistan in February following a suicide bomb attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

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