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  • Voters stand in queues as they wait to cast their vote outside a polling station during the final phase of general election in Kolkata, India, May 19, 2019.

    Voters stand in queues as they wait to cast their vote outside a polling station during the final phase of general election in Kolkata, India, May 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 May 2019
Opinion

The world's biggest elections in India ended with exit polls showing a possible return of the far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Indians lined up to vote amid unprecedented security in the eastern state of West Bengal Sunday as the final phase of a massive, staggering election got underway to decide whether far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns for a second term.

ANALYSIS:

‘Soul of India at Stake': Why Progressives Want Modi Out

Around 900 million Indians are eligible to vote in the seven-phase election, with vote counting to begin Thursday.

The grueling, 39-day poll began in the wake of aerial clashes and escalated tensions with neighboring Pakistan, which Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used to focus its campaign on national security.

The main opposition Congress party and other regional blocs concentrated on the government's economic mismanagement and inability to create jobs.

According to most exit polls, Modi's ruling alliance is likely to win a clear majority in parliament, a far better showing than expected in recent weeks.

Modi faced criticism early on in the campaign for failing to create jobs for youth, for weak farm prices,  and encouraging communal tension. The election race was thought to be tightening with the main opposition Congress party gaining ground.

But he rallied his Hindu nationalist base and turned the campaign into a fight against neighboring Pakistan.

Modi's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is projected to win 287 seats in the 545-member lower house of parliament followed by 128 for the Congress Party-led opposition alliance, CVoter exit poll showed.

To rule, a party needs the support of 272 lawmakers. One poll by Neta Newsx, though, forecast Modi's group falling 30 seats short.

Exit polls, though, have a mixed record in a country with an electorate of 900 million people.

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