Around two-thirds of the 900 million eligible voters were believed to have cast their ballots, which will be counted on Thursday.
The gruelling 39-day poll began in the wake of aerial clashes and escalated tensions with neighbouring Pakistan, which Modi’s ruling BJP used to focus its campaign on national security.
The main opposition Congress party and other regional blocs concentrated on the government’s economic mismanagement and inability to create jobs in their attempt to win voters.
However, the campaign turned increasingly personal and vitriolic in the final stages and clashes between rival groups marred polling in West Bengal.
Security was tight around voting stations in Kolkata and surrounding areas where people cast their vote. Around 57,000 policemen were deployed and more than 400 quick response teams were on standby, the chief electoral officer in Kolkata said.
Modi’s decision to bomb a purported militant training camp in Pakistan soon after a suicide attack in the disputed Kashmir region killed 40 policemen boosted his support. The opposition lacked a strong counter punch but the drawn-out election still appeared to tighten.
Critics accused Modi of stoking fear among the country’s Hindu majority of the potential dangers posed by the country’s Muslims and by Pakistan as he promoted a Hindu-first India.
But Modi’s supporters said the Prime Minister and his allies were simply restoring Hinduism to its rightful place at the core of Indian society.
India’s parliament has a total of 545 seats, and any party or alliance will need the support of 272 lawmakers to form the next government. The BJP won 272 in the previous general election in 2014 to secure a single-party majority for the first time in around three decades.
Neelanjan Sircar, a political science professor at Ashoka University near New Delhi, said opposition groups were looking to tap into anger against Modi and the BJP’s strong grassroots machinery that helped it win in 2014.
«To me, this election is very much a battle between voter accountability and party organisation,» Sircar said.
With the majority of the polls indicating a clear majority for Modi’s alliance, Indian equity markets are expected to rally sharply on Monday, while the Indian rupee is also likely to strengthen again the US dollar.
India’s election in numbers
902 million: The is the number of registered voters in the 2019 election, up from about 814.5 million in 2014. This is significantly larger than the entire population of Europe.
8062: The number of candidates in these elections.
543: The contest is for 543 of the 545 seats in the lower house of parliament, or Lok Sabha. The two remaining seats are reserved for the Anglo-Indian community and are nominated by the president of India.
1 million: The number of polling stations the Election Commission set up.
2.33 million: The number of electronic voting machines that have been used, including reserves. Voters press a button that has the candidate’s allocated symbol, as well as his or her photograph.
$US490 million: That is the value of suspected freebies and bribes distributed by candidates to influence voters and confiscated since elections were announced in March. This includes cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals like gold and silver, and other goods like clothes, televisions and pressure cookers.