NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of India's most powerful and divisive leaders for decades, was standing for re-election after the exit polls released Sunday after the big parliamentary elections.
Mr. Modi seems to have emerged from the largest democratic vote in human history, exposed to unemployment and hardship on farms, relatively unscathed by growing grievances across India. His efforts to project a strong image of India overseas have led him to play among the 900 million registered voters play a good role. If voters' polls prove correct, Mr. Modi will be able to govern with a strong hand for another five years.
At least seven exit polls released by Indian media organizations on Sunday evening predicted that Mr. Modi's party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, and their allies would win at least 280 of the 545 seats in the lower house of parliament and empower them to elect the next prime minister ,
When actual results support the polls This will be a much more dominant performance than many analysts thought possible. Official results are expected on Thursday.
"The election results are surprising," said Sudha Pai, a former political science professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, the capital. Mr. Modi's efforts on social media and the fact that the opposition was divided brought unexpectedly large profits.
Similar exit polls in other recent elections in India have accurately predicted broader trends.
The exit surveys have predicted this time forecast that the Indian National Congress, the leading opposition party, would do slightly better than its stunning defeat in the last election in 2014. But it still seemed destined to remain a distant second.
Rahul Gandhi, chairman of the congress and scion of an Indian political dynasty, sought to gain votes by advocating for the harmony of the population and for the rights of minorities. But that did not seem to match Mr. Modi's aggressive and well-financed campaign machine, which enjoys the passionate support of many grassroots groups within the Indian Hindu majority.
"We know with certainty that Modi remains incredibly popular despite everything Everything that has happened in the last five years," said Milan Vaishnav, South Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "He really has nothing to adhere to."
The elections were a six-week affair. They were carried out in stages, with different parts of the country voting at different times. The first votes were received in mid-April and the last on Sunday.
Indian officials moved from constituency to constituency across this vast landscape, from high snow-capped mountains to lush tropical islands in the Andaman Sea.
Wherever he found himself In the election campaign, Mr Modi made national security an important issue. Earlier this year, complaints about his missteps in the economy had increased, and farmers had protested against his government, claiming that their policies were making them poorer. After militants attacked Indian troops in the contested area of Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim, Modi ordered air strikes against Pakistan.
Independent security analysts said the airstrikes missed their targets. Or that Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet the next day.
Indian flags burst overnight across the country, triggered by a burst of jingoism, and Mr Modi's approval ratings have increased rapidly. Most affected were India's minorities. Under Mr. Modi's government, violence against Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of Hindus, and lower caste have increased, and bloodshed is often unpunished.
Modi's trademark of politics, rooted in Hindu supremacist groups that believe Hindus are the rightful rulers of India, has polarized this heterogeneous country, causing anxiety and tensions that India has become divided under Mr Modi's opinion of many voters changed. According to the data, Mr. Modi's party won in most areas won by the last elections.
The large losses predicted by some political analysts in northern India do not seem to have occurred.
Like any output polls conducted in India are imperfect, but their accuracy has improved in recent years.
The big exit polls in 2014 correctly predicted victory for the BJP led coalition. In 2009, surveys on leaving specifically forecast that Congress would receive the most seats, though the data underestimated the number that was ultimately won by the Congressional Alliance.
Recent exit surveys have been conducted by Indian research and survey organizations, many of which have decades of experience. who collaborated with news media. According to the survey organizations, the sample size varied from 40,000 voters to two million for each baseline survey.
Some analysts have warned that initial polls may overstate Mr. Modi's support because some people are afraid to vote against him. Overall, political scientists said they seemed reliable.
"In most cases, graduate surveys have returned the true picture," said Josukutty Cheriantharayil Abraham, director of the survey research center at the University of Kerala. "It may not be accurate in terms of seats or votes, but it could definitely show the trends."
Mr. Gandhi did not comment on the exit polls. After the end of the vote, he complained in a Twitter message that the capitulation of the Indian Electoral Commission before Mr Modi and his gang was obvious to all Indians. posted on Twitter a cartoon in which Mr. Modi knocked down a scattered opposition with a giant lawnmower while the crowd gave him a thumbs up.