New Delhi: The people’s verdict on who rules the world’s largest democracy for the next five years, will soon be known as counting of votes started for the general elections, held after the most polarised campaign the country has seen. Prime Minister Narendra Modi – whose BJP became the first party to gain majority on its own in three decades – seeks a second term in power in face of challenge from a re-energised Congress under Rahul Gandhi and 21 other opposition parties. Exit polls have predicted that the BJP would retain power with a comfortable majority. The opposition has pointed out that the exit polls often get it wrong. Elections were held on 542 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats and a party or alliance needs 272 seats to form government.
Here’s your 10-point cheat sheet to Lok Sabha election 2019 results:
- The NDA is ahead in the counting of postal ballots that’s on now, though their tally is down by nearly 40 seats. Leads indicate that the Congress and its allies, though far behind the BJP, has also made gains compared to 2014. The non-aligned parties, key among them Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi, are on par with 2014.
- Among the states, the BJP is ahead in Gujarat, Delhi, Bihar and Maharashtra. It is also ahead in two of the three heartland states won by the Congress less than six months ago – Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
- Among the southern states, the BJP is ahead in Karnataka – ruled by the alliance government of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy’s Janata Dal Secular. The alliance government completes one year today and a dismal showing in the general elections will not help better the strained ties between the local leaders of the two parties.
- The Congress is ahead in Punjab, where exit polls predicted good showing by the party. It is also ahead in Tamil Nadu. In Chhattisgarh, it is neck and neck with the BJP.
- In Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of lawmakers to the Lok Sabha, the BJP is slightly ahead of the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav alliance. The Congress is leading in four seats. A good performance in the state is considered absolutely essential for any party or alliance hoping to rule at the Centre.
- In Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress has established a substantial lead over Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party in the election for the state’s 25 seats. The party is also ahead in the race for the state’s 175 assembly seats.
- In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who fought a pitched battle with the BJP, is ahead. But early leads show the BJP has made more headway than she expected. It is expected that the BJP’s gains in Bengal and Odisha will help offset whatever losses it might suffer elsewhere.
- In Tamil Nadu, the DMK-Congress alliance is way ahead of the AIADMK and the BJP, which tied up weeks ahead of the elections. A similar showing in the by-elections for 18 assembly seats could topple the AIADMK government led by E Palaniswami.
- Over the last five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been credited with trying to tighten the administration, a strong foreign policy and high-profile campaigns like Swachh Bharat and make-in-India. But he has been attacked by the opposition over a slowing economy, failure to create jobs, a farm sector crisis and rising hate crimes by right-wing fringe groups. Buoyed by the exit poll estimates, the BJP has prepped a blueprint for its next term, built around the three themes of nationalism, national security and development.
- The Opposition demand to tally VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) slips with the Electronic Voting Machines before votes are counted has been turned down by the Election Commission. The verification from five random polling booths in each assembly segment – made mandatory by the Supreme Court — will be done after the counting of votes.