Indian election exit polls suggest Modi alliance win

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance is projected to win a big majority in the country's general election, TV exit polls say, suggesting it will do better than expected by most analysts.

Most exit polls projected the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could win a two-thirds majority in the 543-member lower house of parliament, where 272 is needed for a simple majority.

A two-thirds majority will allow the government to usher in far-reaching amendments in the constitution.

A summary of five major exit polls projected the NDA could win between 353 and 401 seats, a number that is likely to boost financial markets when they reopen on Monday.

The NDA won 353 seats in the 2019 general election, of which the BJP accounted for 303.

Three of the five polls projected the BJP alone could win more than the 303 seats.

The opposition INDIA alliance led by Rahul Gandhi's Congress party was projected to win between 125 and 182 seats.

Exit polls, which are conducted by polling agencies, have a patchy record in India as they have often got the outcome wrong, with analysts saying it is a challenge to get them right in the large and diverse country.

Soldier at voting booths in Kolkata
Nearly a billion people were eligible to vote in India's election that began on April 19. (AP PHOTO)

In his first comments after voting ended, Modi claimed victory without referring to the exit polls.

"I can say with confidence that the people of India have voted in record numbers to re-elect the NDA government," he said on X, without providing evidence of his claim.

"The opportunistic INDI Alliance failed to strike a chord with the voters. They are casteist, communal and corrupt."

Pre-election surveys said the BJP would easily keep its majority in the election.

But the party ran into a spirited campaign by the INDIA alliance, sowing some doubt about how close the race might be, and many political analysts had predicted the BJP's margin of victory would be narrower than or close to the 2019 tally.

The opposition has dismissed exit polls, and ahead of their publication had called them "pre-fixed".

Most opposition parties accuse India's main news channels of being biased in favour of Modi, charges the channels deny.

They also say exit polls in India are mostly unscientific.

"This is a government exit poll, this is Narendra Modi's exit poll," Supriya Shrinate, the Congress's social media head, told news agency ANI.

"We have a sense of how many seats we are winning, it will not be one seat less than 259," she said.

Nearly a billion people were eligible to vote in the seven-phase election that began on April 19 and was held in scorching summer heat in many parts.

The Election Commission will count votes on Tuesday and results are expected the same day.

A victory for Modi, 73, will make him only the second prime minister after independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru to win three consecutive terms.

Modi began his re-election campaign by focusing on his achievements over the last 10 years but soon switched to mostly targeting the Congress by accusing it of favouring India's minority Muslims, which the opposition party denies.

Unemployment and inflation are the main concerns for voters in the majority-Hindu country of 1.4 billion people, surveys suggest.