Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party takes commanding lead as India counts votes

Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters hold posters as they celebrate vote results for India’s general elections, at BJP headquart...

Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters hold posters as they celebrate vote results for India’s general elections, at BJP headquarters in New Delhi, India, on May 23, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
With hundreds of millions of votes counted after multi-stage general elections in India, early results show that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is set for a victory.

Official data from India’s Election Commission showed on Thursday that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had taken the lead in the elections, running ahead with 292 out of the total 542 seats available. The main opposition Congress Party won 51 seats.

The Hindu nationalist BJP needed 272 seats to secure a majority in India’s lower house of parliament.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, also a senior BJP leader, said on Twitter that the ruling party had won a "massive victory.”The election started on May 19 and ended on April 11, with more than 600 million people having cast their ballots in the six-week long general elections.

Officials say final results are due by Thursday evening. Modi’s party won a historic landslide in the last elections, in 2014, the first absolute majority in three decades.

Running up to the polls, Modi faced such challenges as strong opponents, particularly a resurgent Congress Party, led by Rahul Ghandhi, whose father, grandmother, and great-grandfather had all been former prime ministers.

Modi also faced criticism during his campaign over a failure to create jobs for the youth. But he turned the campaign into a fight for national security after tensions rose with Pakistan, and attacked Congress for being allegedly soft on the country’s arch foe.

Modi’s popularity remains vast as many Indians credit him with programs that have helped the poor and cut through red tape and corruption.

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