New DElhi, May 23: The BJP +NDA is set to return to power as it led in over 350 seats while the Congress trailed far behind. The results are a resounding endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security and nationalism.
The Narendra 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. This is for the first time in a Lok Sabha election results that results of voting machines will be matched with VVPATs or slips generated by paper trail machines.
Exit polls predicted that the BJP will win almost as many seats as it did in 2014 and form a government comfortably. The poll of polls, an aggregate of exit polls, gives the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 302 of 543 seats and the Congress and its allies 122.
The months and weeks leading up to the election saw an acrimonious campaign and bitter attacks by political rivals. The BJP campaigned aggressively on the nationalism pitch and played up the recent Balakot air strikes against Pakistan as an example of PM Modi’s strong leadership. The opposition, led by the Congress party and its leader, Rahul Gandhi, tried to steer the narrative towards the economy, farmer distress and jobs.
Among the key candidates are PM Modi who fought from Varanasi and Rahul Gandhi, who contested from his stronghold of Amethi and Wayanad in Kerala. This is the first time Mr Gandhi contested more than one seat.