India polls: Early trends show BJP on way to form next govt

An Indian pedestrian walks past a hoarding featuring images of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime-ministerial election candidate Narendra Modi and Congress Party prime-ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi on a roadside in New Delhi on May 16, 2014. --
An Indian pedestrian walks past a hoarding featuring images of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime-ministerial election candidate Narendra Modi and Congress Party prime-ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi on a roadside in New Delhi on May 16, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI - As counting proceeded in India' general election on Friday, trends indicated that the Bharatiya Janata Party was well on its way to one of its strongest electoral performances and would be able to form the next government with ease.

Celebrations broke out early in the morning among BJP supporters in the Gujarat, the home state of Mr Narendra Modi, as trends showed the party leading in over 249 seats and the Congress trailing at a poor 77.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi trailed in his Gandhi stronghold of Amethi behind BJP candidate Smriti Irani in the early trends, which could change as the counting proceeds.

But Mr 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 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

The Bharatiya Janata Party is tipped to come to power, ending a decade of Congress rule which was characterised in its second five-year term by a series of corruption scandals and poor governance as the country's fast paced economic growth slowed to below five per cent.

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.