BJP leads in India election vote

BBC :New Delhi, May 16. India’s main opposition BJP is making hefty gains over the ruling Congress party as hundreds of millions of votes cast during its mammoth nine-phase general election are being counted.

The BJP is leading in 250 of 485 seats for which initial indications are available, while the ruling Congress party is leading in 49 seats. Final results for all 543 seats are expected later on Friday.

Voter turnout was a record 66.38%, beating the previous 1984 poll record. About 551 million votes from more than 1.8 million electronic voting machines are being tallied to determine the fortunes of 8,251 candidates.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says the scene at the BJP headquarters resembles a carnival.

There are giant TV screens to project the results, a huge media contingent and a brass band playing patriotic songs, our correspondent says. The entire building is covered with posters of Mr Modi and party flags.

The mood in the Congress office is, however, sombre, says the BBC Hindi’s Divya Arya in Delhi. There are no supporters barring a family that is conducting prayers outside the building, our correspondent says.

The five week-long election witnessed political campaigns marked by bitter exchanges between the main contestants and parties.

Voting was held in nine phases for security and logistical reasons. With 814 million eligible voters, it is the world’s biggest exercise in democracy.

The Election Commission said counting would be held at 989 centres and more than 1,100 observers would be deployed to supervise the process. Reports say hundreds of thousands of security personnel will be deployed to ensure it happens peacefull