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Home / Politics / Policy /  Narendra Modi-led NDA to win 249-282 seats: exit polls

New Delhi: Narendra Modi will be the country’s next prime minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP-led) National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will have a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, most exit polls announced on Monday, the day polling for India’s parliamentary elections ended.

The markets cheered the exit poll results even before they were announced. BSE’s benchmark Sensex rose 2.42% to close at 23,551 points, a new record; the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty rose 2.27% to close at 7,014.25 points, also a record. Nifty futures expiring 29 May ended trading at 7,035.75 points, a nearly 30 points premium.

Exit polls have got it wrong before, most notably in 2004, when they did not give the Congress a chance—the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) formed the government after the election and won again in 2009.

The task facing the new government was also on display on Monday, when the government released factory output data for March and consumer inflation data for April. The first declined 0.5% and the second accelerated to 8.59%.

Around 540 million people voted in India’s parliamentary elections, a record 66.38% of the 814 million voters eligible to vote.

In the decade it has been in power, UPA has overseen a period of rapid economic expansion—India’s economy has grown at an average of 7.5% in the past decade—and seen 137.4 million people cross the line that divides the poor from the not-so in the seven years till 2011-12, but it has also been besieged by corruption scandals and come in for criticism over its inability to control inflation.

Economic growth too has fallen sharply. India’s economy expanded by 4.5% in 2012-13 and may have grown at around the same rate in 2013-14. Businessmen and investors have been openly rooting for a more friendly government—such as the one promised by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Gujarat chief minister Modi.

The Congress, which has been rubbishing the very concept of exit polls, based on what happened in 2004 and 2009, said the results that come in on 16 May will prove the polls wrong. “In keeping with our tradition, we won’t participate in (discussions on TV channels on) these exit polls. The last time, exit polls gave us 68 seats less than what we got," said Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmad even as he protectively sought to absolve party vice-president Rahul Gandhi of any blame for the party’s poor performance. “Rahul Gandhi is not in the government. He is the number two leader in the party. Sonia Gandhi is the president and naturally there is local leadership. So it is all collective."

Although enthused by the exit poll projections, the BJP refused to comment on them and maintained that it would react only once the actual results are out.

The exit polls give a rang

The findings of the exit polls were more or less on the expected lines, said A. K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst and professor at Christ Church College in Kanpur. “There could be minor changes in the actual results," he said, adding that a spell in the opposition would give the Congress party an opportunity to introspect and work on its weaknesses.

If Friday’s results mirror the exit polls, stock markets will have greater cause for cheer, experts said. “If the exit poll results translate to actual results on Friday, then India will see a clear, decisive mandate after almost 30 years, and that will be good for our country. There are so many reforms and key decisions that need to go through in the parliament. Everybody is waiting for an investor-friendly and an industry-friendly government,"said Rashesh Shah, chairman and CEO of Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd.

“A lot of investors—both foreign and domestic, are on the sidelines, and I see them returning to the market, if we see today’s exit poll results are replicated on Friday. It would be the first leg of a major bull run for the Indian markets," Shah added.

If they don’t, the markets could be in for a correction.

Friday and Monday’s sharp spike in the markets were accompanied by spikes in volatility.

NSE’s India VIX, a gauge for market volatility in the near term, rose to as much as 39.30, a level last seen in August 2009, indicating choppy times ahead. It closed 1.59% lower at 37.105.

One of the most bitter electoral battles independent India has seen, the nine-phase elections saw a record voter turnout of 66.38%, up from 58.19% in the 2009 general elections.

In the last and the ninth phase of the elections on Monday, for 41 seats, Uttar Pradesh polled 55.9% votes, West Bengal, 79.03% and Bihar, 54%.

Varanasi, where Modi is taking on the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, saw 55.29% turnout.

BJP chief Rajnath Singh said the high turnout would result in a clear victory for the BJP. “People have come out in large numbers to vote in favour of a government that will get complete majority. People will give the BJP-led NDA a clear majority to form a government under the leadership of Narendra Modi."

Ami Shah in Mumbai, Utpal Bhaskar and Prashant K. Nanda in New Delhi also contributed to this story.

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