May 12 2014, 12:54pm CDT | by Forbes
The five-week long, nine-phase voting in India’s general election finally concluded on Monday recording an all-time high countrywide voter turnout of 66%. The many exit polls that released their embargoed surveys within minutes of the close of voting predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Narendra Modi is set to be India’s next prime minister.
The various exit polls project the BJP and its allies nearing or crossing the half-way mark of 272 mark in the 543-member Indian parliament. One such, the CVoter survey, foretold 290 seats for the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and just over a 100 seats for the ruling Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
However, the world’s largest democratic exercise is considered tricky to call as many regional parties hold sway over voters in small pockets in the country. If the NDA fails to reach the magic number of 272, it may need partners from amongst strong regional bosses like Mamata Banerjee in the eastern West Bengal or Jayalalitha in the southern Tamil Nadu. Analysts however dissected the exit polls on several television channels and predicted a stable, decisive government led by Modi.
The elections have pitted the fire-breathing Modi against the ruling Congress Party’s Rahul Gandhi, scion of India’s foremost Nehru-Gandhi family which gave India three prime ministers. Through the campaign, the Congress Party attacked Modi over his controversial role in the 2002 Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat, a western state of which he is the chief minister currently, which led to the killing of hundreds of people, mainly Muslims (Modi has vehemently denied any involvement).
His rival Gandhi has been vapid through the weeks of electioneering, seemingly unable to rouse India’s voters to back him. The exit polls show Gandhi and his party, tainted by numerous corruption scandals and non-performance, headed to its worst showing ever and consigned to the opposition benches in parliament.
India’s stock market investors and foreign brokerages such as Goldman Sachs have backed Modi as he has sought to ignite India’s sputtering economy with promises such as “toilets not temples” and “more governance, less government”, vowing to boost employment prospects and rev up economic development.
The actual results will be known on May 16 when votes will be tallied. Should Modi cross the half-way mark, experts see him go to work to deliver on his promises to bring the economy back. In anticipation of such a move, India’s stock markets spiked to record heights even ahead of the exit polls. Investors hope that a decisive victory for Modi would revitalize the economy. On Monday, the Nifty index breached the 7,000-point mark for the first time in history. The Sensex too touched an all-time high and the rupee recorded its highest gains of the past 10 months against the U.S. Dollar.
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