India polls: BJP cheers as trends show alliance shoot past simple majority

NEW DELHI - Celebrations broke out early on among Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) supporters as the latest trends showed the party and its allies leading in over 300 seats. The halfway mark is 272 in a 534 seat Parliament.

The Congress continued to perform poorly leading in 63 seats with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who led the party's campaign in these elections, in a battle for retain his family seat of Amethi, in early trends, which could change as the votes are counted.

Mr Gandhi was challenged on his home turf by former soap opera actress turned Smriti Irani and Aam Aadmi party's Kumar Vishwas, a poet cum stand up comedian.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who was well on his way to becoming the country's next prime minister was leading from both the seats of Vadodara in his home state of Gujarat and Varanasi in the central state of Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP's strongest showing as per leads was in the Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which together account for 120 seats in Parliament, allowing the party.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which is making its debut in parliamentary elections, was performing well only in the northern state of Punjab where it was leading in four seats.

Regional parties Ms Jayaram Jayalalithaa, the 66-year-old chief of the southern party All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and Mr Naveen Patnaik, 67, leader of the Biju Janata Dal, were both headed for a sweep in the states of Tamil Nadu and Odisha respectively.

The Election Commission started tallying votes from 1.8 million Electronic Voting Machines accross 989 counting centres.

The EVM machines, which were kept under tight security, were unsealed one by one as the votes of over 500 million people were being counted in what has been the biggest democratic exercise in the world.

India's massive electoral process started off on April 7 and concluded five weeks later on May 12 in a nine phase election with over 814 people eligible to vote.

A record was set with a 66 per voter turnout besting a record of 64 per cent set in 1984 when voters moved by the assassination of sitting Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came out in large numbers to vote.

In a US style presidential style election Mr Modi dominated the election discourse rolling out a massive publicity campaign promising "good times ahead'' if his government came to power.

The Congress, which had been in power for a decade, was unable to match up to the BJP's campaign with the electoral discourse descending to name calling by the top leaders.

Mr Modi took potshots at the Gandhi dynasty and called Mr Gandhi princeling while Mr Gandhi criticised Mr Modi for failing to take care of his wife from whom he had separated decades ago.

These elections were also characterised by a large number of young voters with 100 mililon youngsters exercising their franchise for the first time.

All political parties, including traditional regional parties, made an effort to woo the young by taking their campaigns beyond road shows and public meetings on to social media websites like facebook and twitter.