Modi Says BJP Already Crossed Majority as Election Nears End

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his Bharatiya Janata Party has already won a majority of the seats contested in the parliamentary elections due to end next week, putting him in a position to return to office for a third term.

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The BJP will win a “historic mandate,” Modi said in an interview with The Economic Times, published Thursday. There’s a “clear signal from the people on the ground” that the party has crossed the majority mark by winning 272 out of 543 seats in the lower house of the parliament, he said.

India’s six-week election comes to an end on June 1, with results scheduled to be released on June 4. Modi had predicted the BJP and its allies would win more than 400 seats in the parliament, up from about 350 seats in 2019. The ruling party on its own won 303 seats in the 2019 elections.

Modi said the BJP had made significant gains in the southern and eastern parts of the country. “This time, we will vastly improve our performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha,” Modi told the newspaper.

The BJP faces an opposition alliance of more than 20 groups, which expects to topple Modi and the BJP. Opposition leaders like Akhilesh Yadav, who heads a regional party in Uttar Pradesh state, and Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, have said the BJP will fail to win a majority in the elections.

India’s NSE Nifty 50 Index hit a fresh high in intraday trading Thursday, with a gauge of 12 state-owned banks jumping 2%. Markets were also buoyed by the central bank’s announcement Wednesday of a record $25 billion payout to the government.

Speaking about the recent volatility in Indian financial markets — triggered by uncertainty about the BJP’s support — Modi said in the ET interview his government had undertaken “maximum reforms and managed the economy with fiscal prudence.”

“I can say with confidence that on June 4, as BJP hits record numbers, the stock market will also hit new record highs,” he said.

--With assistance from Ravil Shirodkar.

(Updates with market reaction.)

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