Hindu nationalist Narenda Modi is set to become India’s next prime minister, six major TV exit polls have indicated, with his opposition party and its allies forecast to sweep to a parliamentary majority in the world’s biggest elections ever.
India’s staggered voting was spread over five weeks to reach the country’s 815 million voters. It ended Monday, with Modi, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), widely tipped to take office after a media-savvy campaign that hinged on vows to kick start India’s economy and create jobs.
On Tuesday, Indian's stock market and currency cheered the prediction, with the Sensex rising by more than 2 percent.
The BJP-led alliance is forecast to win 270 to 282 seats, according to a poll conducted by research group CSDS for the CNN-IBN television network. It forecast just 92 to 102 seats for the coalition led by the Congress party, which would be the worst ever result for the ruling party led by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Congress spearheaded India’s independence movement and has governed the country for over 50 years since freedom from British rule in 1947.
Another poll released on Monday, by Nielsen for ABP News, showed the BJP-led alliance hitting 281 seats. A third, by Cicero for the India Today group, predicted Modi's alliance would take 261 to 283 seats, and pollster C-Voter forecast a tally of 289.
One outlier poll, by Today's Chanakya, showed the BJP emerging with enough seats to rule on its own.
A Modi victory would be a blow for campaigners who have long maintained he is and autocratic Hindu supremacist responsible for an outbreak of religious riots in his home state, Gujarat, in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people died, mostly Muslims.
Modi denies accusations against him, and a Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.
“We will only know if this Modi wave has really happened after the election results,” said Praveen Rai, a political analyst at CSDS who recently published a report on exit polls. “It still might be more of a media wave, a manufactured wave.”