India elections 2019: All the latest updates | India News

Counting of votes is under way in India after its marathon seven-phase general elections concluded on May 19, with early leads indicating the return of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a second term.

Modi is the first non-Congress prime minister in India to return to power after a full five-year term. 

Official data from the Election Commission showed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 303 of the 542 seats, up from 282 it had won in 2014. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has won 351 seats. 

The opposition Indian National Congress (INC) has won 54 seats. In 2014, the Congress was reduced to 44.

The party or coalition with a simple majority (272 seats) is invited to form the government. The MPs from the winning party or coalition elect their leader, who then becomes the country’s prime minister.

About 67 percent of more than 900 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the staggered elections that the ruling party fought on issues of national security and a hardline Hindu agenda.

The opposition parties raised issues such as a massive job crisis and farming distress, with the Congress party levelling allegations of corruption over the purchase of French Rafale fighter jets by the government.

Counting is also being held for four state assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim.

Here are the latest updates:

Uttar Pradesh state’s Congress chief resigns

Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, chief of the Congress party in the politically-critical state of Uttar Pradesh has resigned, Indian news agency PTI reported.

Babbar’s resignation followed the Congress’s worst ever showing in the state with 80 Lok Sabha seats, capped by party president Rahul Gandhi losing in Amethi, a seat it had retained since the 1980s.

‘Economy one of Modi’s biggest concerns’

Speaking with Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman in New Delhi, Shruti Kapila of the University of Cambridge said economy remains the biggest challenge before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It’s interesting that when Modi spoke yesterday at his victory speech, he spoke very little about economy. But it is one of the biggest concerns that will face the prime minister because India has historic unemployment rate at the moment,” she said.

“India also has a very young, very demanding, aspirational young population who voted for him. The big businesses also supported him and now will be keen to see reforms and rolling back of welfare.”

Modi begins talks for new cabinet after big win

Modi will hold talks to form a new cabinet to tackle a stuttering economy and other challenges facing his second term after winning a big majority.

He has not yet set an inauguration date for the administration, but BJP officials said he was expected to move quickly to put together a new cabinet.

An immediate decision will be whether to keep senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley as finance minister despite his poor health, or assign Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal to the job of leading Asia’s third largest economy.

Pakistan says wants peace with India, Modi responds

The Pakistani and Indian prime ministers have exchanged messages via Twitter after Modi returned to power in an election contested in the wake of a confrontation between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Imran Khan said in a tweet that he was ready to cooperate with the returning government for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”

Shortly after delivering a victory speech, Modi thanked Khan.

“I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region,” he said in a tweet.

Modi addresses supporters at party HQ

The prime minister has addressed thousands of BJP supporters who waited for hours in a thunderstorm for his arrival at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi.

“We all want a new India. I want to bow my head and say thank you,” he said. “Whatever happened in these elections is in the past, we have to look ahead. We have to take everyone forward, including our staunchest opponents.”

He also took aim at the people who doubted the BJP could increase its majority.

“The political pundits of India have to leave behind their ideas of the past,” he added.

‘Terror-accused’ Hindu hardliner from Modi’s BJP wins 

Controversial Hindu ascetic and BJP leader Pragya Thakur has defeated an opposition Congress strongman by a big margin in the central city of Bhopal.

The 49-year-old is accused of plotting a bomb attack on Muslims in 2006, in which six people were killed.

Thakur is the first person accused of “terrorism” to be fielded by a major political group in India.

Congress chief concedes defeat in party bastion

Rahul Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress party, has conceded defeat in Amethi, the constituency in Uttar Pradesh state that the 48-year-old leader represented since 2004.

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi’s Congress had not lost Amethi since the 1980s [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

“I respect the decision and congratulate Smriti Irani,” Gandhi said at a press conference in New Delhi, referring to the BJP leader who defeated him.

The Congress leader also congratulated Modi. “Today, people have clearly given their decision. I congratulate the PM and BJP,” he said.

Pakistan PM congratulates Modi

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated his Indian counterpart for his election victory.

“I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.” Khan posted on Twitter.

Modi promises ‘inclusive India’ after massive win

Modi has promised to unite the country after the massive election win, with his party on course to increase its majority on a mandate in India’s parliament.

“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!” the Hindu nationalist leader posted on Twitter.

Official Election Commission data at 1030 GMT showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP ahead in 298 of the 542 seats available, up from the 282 it won in 2014. 

Modi congratulates state assembly election winners

Modi has congratulated the heads of two regional parties who won the assembly elections in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.

“Dear @ysjagan, congratulations on the remarkable win in Andhra Pradesh. Best wishes to you for a successful tenure,” he posted, addressing YS Jaganmohan Reddy, chief of YSR Congress Party, which swept the southern state.

“Congratulations to Naveen Babu for yet another victory in Odisha. Wishing him the very best for the next term,” the BJP leader said in another tweet for Naveen Patnaik, the Odisha chief minister who won an impressive fifth term.

Verdict against propaganda, lies: BJP president

BJP president Amit Shah has tweeted that the election results, which are yet to be finalised, were a victory “for all of India”.

“This result is India’s verdict against the propaganda, lies, personal attacks and baseless politics of the opposition,” he added.

“Today’s mandate also shows that people of India have entirely uprooted casteism, nepotism and appeasement to choose nationalism and development.”

Indian election

BJP supporters celebrate in capital New Delhi [Sudipto Mondal/Al Jazeera]

World leaders congratulate Modi on massive win

A number of world leaders have congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his historic return to power for a second straight term.

Among the leaders who have sent their congratulatory messages are Afghanistan president Ashraf Gani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Nepal’s PM K P Sharma.

Kanhaiya Kumar loses in Begusarai: Report

Former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar has lost in the eastern state of Bihar’s Begusarai constituency, one of the most followed electoral contests in the Indian election.

India’s newspaper The Indian Express said Kumar, 31, lost to hardline BJP leader Giriraj Singh by a massive margin of nearly three lakh votes. 

Kumar was fielded in Begusarai by the Communist Party of India.

‘We thought it was time for Modi to go’

In New Delhi, Fatima A of the Rahul Priyanka Gandhi Sena, a group headed by the opposition Congress party, told Al Jazeera that the general election results are “totally unexpected”.

“We thought this was the time for Modi to go,” she said.

Indian elections

Fatima A belongs to the Rahul Priyanka Gandhi Sena, a Congress group [Bilal Kuchay/Al Jazeera]

‘No opposition to Modi for next five years’

Academic Manindra Nath Thakur, who teaches at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said Modi will face virtually no opposition in his second straight term as prime minister.

“The Congress has not done well and therefore there will be virtually no opposition to BJP for the next five years,” he told Al Jazeera.

When asked what the BJP win means for India, he said, “It means three things: the discourse of forming a Hindu state will remain very dominant, the country will move towards more rigorous capitalism, and some new kind of welfare mechanism will be rolled out to keep the masses in favour of the party.”

‘BJP’s anti-Muslim campaign has succeeded’

As results suggesting a massive BJP win began to emerge, India’s Muslims said they were worried about the future of secularism in the country.

“This election shows that the BJP’s anti Muslim campaign has succeeded,” shopkeeper Faizan Zafar, 25, told Al Jazeera in New Delhi. “This time it looks like Muslims will be finished and they will declare a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (theocratic Hindu state).”

Indian election

Faizan Zafar (right) with his brother Faizan Alam at a shop in New Delhi [Sudipto Mondal/Al Jazeera]

‘BJP makes inroads in two eastern states’

Reporting from New Delhi, Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman has said the BJP is leading in 292 seats, a tally better than its performance in 2014.

“The BJP is leading in 292 constituencies. If they win all of these seats, they are in majority on their own,” he said. 

“The BJP has retained its voter base except a few seats in Uttar Pradesh state. But they have made inroads in two very important states: Odisha and West Bengal.”

BJP supporters celebrate after learning the initial election results in New Delhi

BJP supporters celebrate after learning the initial election results in New Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Andhra Pradesh CM to resign: Indian news agency

The votes are also being counted in four state assembly elections. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is likely to resign later on Thursday, Indian news agency ANI said.

In the eastern state of Odisha, the latest trends show the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leading in 94 seats, the BJP in 28, and the Congress in 12 constituencies.

Modi to meet BJP leaders as party sweeps polls

The BJP’s parliamentary board meeting is scheduled to be held around 1200 GMT on Thursday. PM Modi will meet his party’s workers at their office in capital New Delhi, Indian news agency ANI said.

The mood was upbeat at the BJP headquarters with party workers cheering as TV channels reported a growing lead.

“It’s a huge mandate for positive politics and the policies of Narendra Modi,” said GVL Narasimha Rao, a BJP spokesperson. “It’s a huge win for India, we are humbled by the magnificence of this victory.”

‘We have lost the battle’

Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the northern state of Punjab and a senior Congress leader, has conceded defeat in the general elections. 

“We have lost the battle,” Singh told the India Today TV news channel. The Congress is yet to officially release its statement on the defeat.

India’s foreign minister congratulates Modi 

Modi’s party has won the general election, a senior BJP leader has said as early results suggest a sweep by the right-wing party.

“Many congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivering such a massive victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter.

“I express my gratitude to the people of the country.” 

Indian general election

BJP supporters celebrate after learning of initial poll results in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad city [Amit Dave/Reuters]

Indian stocks hit record highs as Modi leads

Indian shares surge to record highs as early trends showed the BJP-led NDA coalition was way ahead of its main opposition UPA led by the Congress.

Investor sentiment has been buoyant since exit polls were announced on Sunday, with both the National Stock Exchange index and the Bombay Stock Eschange index gaining 3.7 percent each the next session, a level last seen in 2014.

Modi wins second term, says Indian TV channel

India’s NDTV news channel has said Modi’s BJP has crossed the halfway mark of 272 seats in the lower house of India’s parliament “on its own steam” within two hours of the counting.

INTERACTIVE: Indian elections 2019  - Why does the map look this way?
INTERACTIVE: Indian elections 2019 – Why does the map look this way? [Al Jazeera]

The BJP has performed well in the Hindi-speaking states in the north – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the network said.

The state governments in all the three states are headed by the opposition Congress.

Modi expected to hold power for a second term

Early trends show Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP may retain power for a second straight term.

The trends at 10.30 am (0500 GMT) showed the BJP leading in 326 of the 542 seats, followed by the Congress at 106, according to the Indian media.

A party or coalition needs 272 votes for a simple majority in Lok Sabha, Indian parliament’s lower house.

Indian general elections

Election staff members sort ballot papers before counting them inside a vote counting centre in Ahmedabad [Amit Dave/Reuters]

Postal ballots first to be counted

The “postal ballots” are counted first, followed by votes from the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman reported from capital New Delhi.

Postal ballots are cast by security personnel serving in the armed and paramilitary forces, and diplomats serving outside India.

Counting of 600 million votes begins

India is counting about 600 million votes in its general election with a coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party predicted to win a clear majority.

The vote count started at 0800 local time (0230 GMT), and results are likely to be clear later in the day. If there is a clear trend, this should be evident by around midday (0630 GMT). 

Exit polls pointed to a victory for Modi but such projections have been wrong in the past.

Read more here

INTERACTIVE: Indian elections 2019 - Government April 29



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