NEW DELHI: Sealing its phenomenal electoral victory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP crossed the 300 mark and was leading in one seat as counting for votes for 542 Lok Sabha seats neared its end on Friday.
The massive exercise began Thursday morning with early trends establishing the BJP’s conclusive lead, making it evident that Modi’s message, packaging muscular nationalism, security and Hindu pride, had worked wonders.
With the BJP riding a Modi wave that took it past its 2014 tally of 282, the opposition was left way behind with the Congress winning only 52 seats, two less than it needs for a Leader of Opposition post in the lower house and marginally more than the 44 it got in the last general elections.
Regional parties followed the Congress in the electoral table.
The DMK with 23 wins, the Trinamool Congress and the YSRCP with 22 each, the Shiv Sena with 18 and the Janata Dal-United with 16 made their presence felt in an election that took on overtones of a presidential contest with the domination of Modi.
The other regional parties, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, did not fare well. The BJP and its ally Apna Dal(S) won 64 of the 80 seats in the state, demolishing the challenge posed by the SP-BSP alliance.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) won five seats and its alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) 10.
Left parties CPI and CPI-M were left with five seats — three for the CPI-M and two for the CPI. This is about half of their tally of 10 in 2014.
Election Commission figures also showed the BJP had won 302 and was leading in one.
With the elections establishing 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance(NDA) are poised to clinch around 350 seats as against their previous 336.
Such was the force of the BJP wave that even Congress president Rahul Gandhi lost in his bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to Smriti Irani, but in consolation prize won the Wayanad seat in Kerala. Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda also bit the dust when he lost the Tumkur seat in Karnataka where the BJP bagged 25 of the 28 seats.
After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Modi is the third prime minister of the country and the first non-Congress one who has been able to retain power for a second term with full majority.
The voting was staggered in seven phases between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants.
Counting was delayed because, for the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC tallied vote count on Electronic Voting Machines with voter verified paper audit trail slips in five polling stations in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency.