Indian Voting Ends With Polls Showing Modi in Control

Analysts caution the projections are not always reliable
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2024 1:00 PM CDT
Indian Voting Ends With Modi on Track to Equal Nehru's Tenure
Polling officials check and seal an electronic voting machine before they allow voters to cast their votes at a polling station Saturday near Dharamshala, India.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

India's six-week national election came to an end Saturday with most exit polls projecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to extend his decade in power with a third consecutive term. During the grueling, multiphase election, candidates crisscrossed the country, poll workers hiked to remote villages, and voters lined up for hours in sweltering heat. The election, whose results are to be announced Tuesday, is considered one of the most consequential in India's history, the AP reports. If Modi wins, he'll be only the second Indian leader to retain power for a third term after Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister.

Exit polls by major television news channels projected Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies were leading over the broad opposition alliance led by the Congress party. Most exit polls projected BJP and its allies could win more than 350 seats out of 543—far ahead of the 272 seats needed to form the next government. The polls are released by various news agencies, but analysts caution that they have often been wrong before and are not impartial, per the BBC. Modi's campaign began on a platform of economic progress, with vows to uplift the poor and turn India into a developed nation by 2047. But it turned increasingly shrill as Modi escalated polarizing rhetoric that targeted the country's Muslim minority, who make up 14% of the nation's 1.4 billion people.

Since coming to power in 2014, Modi has enjoyed immense popularity. His supporters see him as a self-made, strong leader who has improved India's standing in the world and credit his pro-business policies with making the economy the world's fifth-largest, per the AP. At the same time, his rule has included brazen attacks and hate speech against minorities, particularly Muslims. India's democracy, his critics say, is faltering, and Modi has increasingly blurred the line between religion and state. His party began to face stiff resistance from the opposition alliance and its main face, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party. They have attacked Modi over his Hindu nationalist politics and are hoping to benefit from growing economic discontent.

(More India stories.)

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