New Delhi, May 23: Counting of votes in under way in India after its marathon seven-phase general elections concluded on May 19, with early leads indicating the return of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a second term.
Modi is the first non-Congress prime minister in India to return to power after a full five-year term.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading in nearly 340 of the 542 seats that went to the polls.
The opposition United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Indian National Congress (INC) is leading in less than 100, while the party itself leads in about 50. In 2014, the Congress had won 44 seats.
The party or coalition with a simple majority (272 seats) is invited to form the government. The MPs from the winning party or coalition elect their leader, who then becomes the country’s prime minister.
About 67 percent of more than 900 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the staggered elections that the ruling party fought on issues of national security and a hardline Hindu agenda.
The opposition parties raised issues such as a massive job crisis and farming distress, with the Congress party levelling allegations of corruption over the purchase of French Rafale fighter jets by the government.
Counting is also being held for four state assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.