Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 292 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 51, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.If the trends stay until final results, the BJP would have improved on its 2014 performance when it had won 282 seats on its own in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Adding the seats won by its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could win 343 seats, up from 336 in 2014.
Markets cheered the trends, as the benchmark BSE Sensex touched 40,000 for the first time and NSE Nifty breached the 12,000 level. The rupee appreciated 14 paise to 69.51 against the US dollar trade.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
The Congress Party was ahead only in one seat in Uttar Pradesh. Even, Congress President Rahul Gandhi was trailing BJP's Smriti Irani in Amethi by nearly 7,000 votes but was clearly ahead in Wyanad in Kerala.
The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected, but also rippled through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP was ahead in four seats, the same as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
In Odisha, the BJP was ahead in nine of the 21 seats and Biju Janata Dal was ahead in 11. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 seats and BJP took one. BJP ally, Janata Dal (United) was ahead in 16 seats.As votes for the seven-phase Parliamentary polls were counted on Thursday, the Trinamool Congress Party was leading in 25 of 42 seats of West Bengal while BJP was ahead in 15, up from two it held in 2014. The Left was wiped out in the state, once its citadel.
The DMK was ahead in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu.
As the trends came in, pointing to another tenure of Modi as prime minister, celebrations broke out in the BJP's party offices across the country with people dancing to the sounds of drums
The trends of the ruling party's leads were in sync with the exit polls, most of which predicted that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would be on course to retain power for a second term.
The counting exercise is on in over 4,000 counting centres amid concerns raised by opposition parties over alleged tampering of EVMs. They have asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting.
Election Commission officials said results are expected only by late evening
The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants.