BJP set to return to power as 'Modi wave' sweeps most of India

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power on 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.

The results are a resounding endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, his government's achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security and nationalism. He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country's woes.

The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.

Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave has swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.

In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP was leading in 56 of the 80 seats at stake. The SP was ahead in eight and BSP in 12.

Although the BJP had won 72 seats in the last elections, the performance is much better than what many exit polls had forecast.

(Agencies)