Key moments in India's election

Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party light fireworks to celebrate on the day of the general election results, in Srinagar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - As India counts over 640 million votes in the world's largest election that began on April 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's alliance looks set to clinch a majority but his party was unlikely to win on its own, the running vote count showed.

People came out in record high temperatures to elect the 543 members of the lower house of the Indian Parliament.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced a joint opposition alliance of over two dozen political parties, called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA.

These are the key political moments that contributed to the result.

Jan 22: Modi leads the consecration of a controversial but grand temple to Lord Ram at a bitterly contested site, resulting in a wave of religious fervour that heavily favoured his Hindu nationalist BJP.

Jan 31: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents an austere budget in an election year, projecting confidence that the Modi-led government would return to power.

Feb 16: Congress, the main opposition party, said the tax department had frozen its bank accounts for a five-year-old demand for $25 million. It later got relief from the Supreme Court.

March 14: Data revealed by the poll watchdog showed that business houses Vedanta, Airtel and Essel were among the top funders of political parties through a mechanism that allowed individuals and companies to anonymously donate money to political parties until it was scrapped by the top court.

Modi's BJP had garnered most of the money through this route since 2018, when it was introduced, bringing focus to the vast difference in its war chest compared to its opponents.

March 16: The poll watchdog, the Election Commission of India, announced the world's largest election with nearly a billion registered voters would kick off on April 19.

People would vote in seven phases over a six-week period.

Modi said he was confident of a victory, a claim backed by poll predictions. His party leaders said the ruling alliance would win 400 of the 543 seats in parliament's lower house.

March 22: Less than a week after the election was announced, India's financial crime fighting agency, the Enforcement Directorate, arrested the chief minister of the capital Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, one of the key faces of the united opposition.

This was the latest in a wave of detentions, raids and questioning of opposition politicians by India's investigative agencies.

April 19: Voting begins, with jobs, inflation, India's rising global profile and Hindu pride as key issues.

April 21: A lower voter turnout than at the previous election in 2019 worried the BJP, and Modi changed tack in his campaign speeches.

From largely focusing on his government's performance on economic development and welfare schemes earlier, Modi accused Congress of planning to redistribute wealth from majority Hindus to minority Muslims.

April 25: As the campaign turned more acrimonious, the Congress and the BJP complained to the Election Commission about divisive speeches by each other's leaders. The watchdog sought responses from both sides.

After a long delay, which the opposition said allowed Modi to further violate the poll code, it asked both sides to show restraint.

May 10: Halfway through the election, Kejriwal was given bail and allowed to campaign, boosting the opposition.

In one of his first speeches, Kejriwal raised doubts whether 73-year-old Modi would continue to be the prime minister after turning 75, an age limit the BJP has spoken about in the past.

Top BJP leaders said the party has no such age limit rule, though.

To counter voter fatigue and resistance from a resurgent opposition, BJP's ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stepped in to help Modi's campaign.

June 1: Voting ended, with Modi's constituency, Varanasi among the 57 in the last phase.

Exit polls, prohibited while voting was on, predicted the BJP would record a thumping win, possibly surpassing its 2019 tally of 303 seats.

June 4: Counting and result.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)