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The Latest | Prime Minister Modi’s coalition clinches parliamentary majority in India’s election

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NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s coalition won a majority in parliament in the country’s staggered election, according to official results released early Wednesday by India’s Election Commission.

The count showed that Modi’s National Democratic Alliance won 286 seats, more than the 272 seats needed to secure a majority but far fewer than predicted.

He had already claimed victory for the alliance late Tuesday, even though his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won less seats than expected — and more than 60 seats less than the record 303 it won in the 2019 election.

“Today’s victory is the victory of the world’s largest democracy” Modi told a crowd at his party’s headquarters. He said the NDA will form the government for the third consecutive time.

Still, India’s opposition Congress party called the opposition alliance’s strong showing in the polls a “win for democracy” and a “moral and political loss” for Modi.

More than 640 million votes were cast in the marathon election held over a span of six weeks in the world’s largest democratic exercise. Nearly 970 million people — more than 10% of the world’s population — were eligible to vote. The turnout averaged 66%, according to official data.

India’s vote was the latest in an unusually busy stretch of elections around the world that are challenging the status quo.

Currently:

— A look at India’s popular but polarizing Modi as he extends his decade in power.

— What to know as votes are being counted in India.

— The world’s largest election, in photos.

— A scorching heat wave killed 14 in India before the final phase of voting.

— Modi touts India’s roaring economy, but many feel left behind.

Here’s the latest:

MODI SAYS INDIA WILL SEE ‘A NEW CHAPTER OF BIG DECISIONS’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India will will see a “new chapter of big decisions” in his third term in office.

After claiming victory for his coalition alliance despite a lacklustre performance from his own party, Modi told a crowd at party headquarters he would not shirk from pushing forward with his agenda.

He said he would advance India’s defense production, jobs for youth, raise exports and help farmers, among other things.

“This country will see a new chapter of big decisions. This is Modi’s guarantee,” he said, speaking in the third person.

BJP FACING MAJOR UPSET IN UTTAR PRADESH

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party is facing a major upset in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh at the hands of a powerful regional group, Samajwadi Party, or Socialist Group.

The Samajwadi Party, led my Akhilesh Yadav, already had won 10 seats and was leading in another 28 seats. Its ally, the Congress party, won four seats and was leading in another two.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party had won 12 seats and was leading in 20 seats. Exit polls had predicted a landslide victory for BJP in all 80 seats.

Modi was among the winners in the state from the Varanasi constituency. Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party won in his family bastion of Rae Bareli.

In January, Modi inaugurated a massive temple for Lord Ram in Varanasi.

Rajendra Chaudhry, spokesperson for the Samajwadi Party, said: “In this election, it seems Lord Ram has deserted the BJP.”

The Samajwadi Party was founded in 1992 by Mulayam Singh Yadav, who served as its top elected official for several years. His son, Akhilesh Yadav, took over the party leadership after his death.

MODI SAYS HIS COALITION ON THE PATH TO WIN A THIRD TERM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his coalition is on the path to a third straight term in government after India’s marathon election.

“People have placed their faith in NDA, for a third consecutive time! This is a historical feat in India’s history,” Modi said in a post on X, referring to the National Democratic Alliance headed by his party. He said he will continue to work and fulfil the aspirations of the people.

As Modi posted his comment, his coalition had won 128 seats and led in 157 races, according to the Election Commission. A total of 272 seats are needed to form a majority government.

INDIA’S OPPOSITION SAYS STRONG SHOWING ‘A WIN FOR DEMOCRACY’

India’s opposition Congress party has called its alliance’s strong showing in the polls a “win for democracy” and a “moral and political loss” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress party President Mallikarjun Kharge told a news conference in New Delhi that because no party had a clear majority, the mandate was against Modi.

“Our fight has not ended yet. We will continue to fight for the country’s development, for the constitution, for the benefit of the people,” Kharge said.

Modi’s coalition led in a majority of seats Tuesday in India’s general election, according to early figures, but faced a stronger challenge from the opposition than expected.

Rahul Gandhi, the face of the Congress party’s campaign, said the results showed India does not want Modi.

“People’s clear message to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit shah is that we don’t want you to run the nation,” Gandhi said. “The poorest of this country have defended the constitution of India.”

MODI WINS SEAT IN VARANASI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a seat in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, where he ran in 2014 and 2019, India’s Election Commission reported.

Modi won by more than 152,000 votes and secured 54% of total votes. He ran against the Congress party’s Ajai Rai, who got 40%.

Varanasi is located on the banks of the revered Ganges River and is part of Uttar Pradesh state, India’s most populous, with around 200 million people.

BJP LOSES SEAT IN AYODHYA, WHERE MODI OPENED A GRAND TEMPLE IN JANUARY

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has lost a seat in the Ayodhya constituency, a deeply symbolic loss after he opened a grand but controversial Hindu temple there in January.

The Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, Lallu Singh, lost to a rival from the regional Samajwadi Party, Singh’s poll agent Kamlesh Srivastava told The Associated Press.

Modi and his party had campaigned heavily at the temple dedicated to Lord Ram, built on the historic ruins of a mosque that was destroyed by Hindu mobs in 1992.

Experts said the January opening, where Modi performed rituals inside the temple, marked the unofficial start of his campaign as they hoped it would resonate with his Hindu majority voters. Modi’s government had turned it into a national event by organizing live screenings across the country and closing offices for half a day.

The BJP had held a seat in Ayodhya since 2014.

MODI’S PARTY WINS 19, CONGRESS PARTY 4 SEATS IN CONFIRMED RACES

While the vote counting is still continuing, results have been called for 28 parliamentary seats out of 542 so far.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has won 19 seats, according to India’s Election Commission, while the main opposition Congress party secured four seats. The rest went to different regional parties.

Vote tallying is expected to take all day Tuesday, but the count so far shows Modi’s party leading in 224 seats with the Congress ahead in 98.

EARLY TALLIES SHOW MODI’S BJP LEADING IN 25 OF 26 SEATS IN HIS HOME STATE

Early leads by India’s election commission projected Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was leading in 25 of 26 seats in the prime minister’s home state of Gujarat. But party leaders said they were not celebrating victory due to a recent blaze at an amusement park in the state that killed 27 people, including children.

A massive fire broke out in May at an amusement park in the state’s Rajkot city.

“We had decided that there will be no celebratory victory or beating of drums. So we are not celebrating,” said C. R. Patil, a senior leader from Modi’s party.

MODI MAY NEED A COALITION TO KEEP HIS JOB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist party appeared to be falling short of a majority in the early vote count Tuesday. If these trends hold, it would be a stunning setback to the populist prime minister who has never relied on coalition partners to govern.

Bharatiya Janata Party is still expected to form the new government and return Modi as the prime minister for a rare third consecutive term as his National Democratic Alliance was leading in about 290 seats. A majority requires 272 seats. BJP alone was leading in 242 seats.

Still, that’s not the strong finish Modi was aiming for after his party won landslide victories in the 2014 and 2019 elections.

If BJP doesn’t win a majority on its own, it could “be heavily dependent on the goodwill of its allies, which makes them critical players who we can expect will extract their pound of flesh, both in terms of policymaking as well as government formation,” said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“This would be truly, you know, uncharted territory, both for Indians as well as for the prime minister,” Vaishnav said.

Since coming to power in 2014, Modi’s BJP has governed in a coalition government but has always had a majority on its own.

INDIA’S MAIN STOCK INDICES CLOSE SHARPLY DOWN AS EARLY VOTE TALLIES SHOW A CLOSER RACE THAN EXPECTED

As the early vote count showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party facing a tighter than expected race, India’s two main benchmark stock indices closed down sharply.

The NIFTY 50 and the BSE Sensex had hit new highs at the close of day Monday but dropped sharply Tuesday as the early vote figures started to come in.

They recovered slightly to each close down more than 5%.

The country’s stock markets have boomed under Modi, whose pro-market policies have made him popular among India’s corporations and businesspeople.

Even if Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party does not secure a parliamentary majority on its own, early leads reported by India’s Election Commission showed his coalition, which includes smaller parties, still could.

JAILED POLITICIAN WINS NORTHERN BARAMULLA CONSTITUENCY AFTER OPPONENT CONCEDES

A politician from disputed Kashmir who has been in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail since 2019 in a terror funding case has won after his rival conceded defeat.

Sheikh Abdul Rashid from northern Baramulla constituency won as an independent candidate, beating former chief minister of the region Omar Abdullah.

“I think it’s time to accept the inevitable,” Abdullah wrote on X. “I don’t believe his victory will hasten his release from prison nor will the people of North Kashmir get the representation they have a right to but the voters have spoken and in a democracy that’s all that matters.”

Rashid’s campaign was run by his two sons, hoping a win for him would lead to his release from prison. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the neighbors but claimed by both in its entirety. Modi’s government revoked Indian-controlled Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status during a 2019 security clampdown.

Rebel groups in the region have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the armed uprising and subsequent Indian military crackdown. The rebels want Kashmir to be united under Pakistani rule or become an independent country.

OPPOSITION SHOWS SURPRISING EARLY LEADS IN UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA’S MOST POPULOUS STATE

India’s most populous state is showing surprising early leads for the opposition, despite being previously controlled by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party.

Early tallies reported by the Election Commission showed the opposition Congress party and its ally, the Samajwadi Party, were leading on more than half the seats in the crucial northern Uttar Pradesh state ruled by a Hindu monk who is considered a future prime minister candidate by Modi supporters.

Uttar Pradesh sends the most lawmakers of any state — 80 — to Parliament. It has long been considered the biggest prize in Indian elections. It’s also home to Ayodhya, where a Hindu temple was built on the site of a razed mosque.

The Samajwadi Party was leading in 35 seats, with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead in 34 seats. The Congress party was leading in seven seats.

In the 2019 election, BJP won 62 seats in the state.

MODI’S BJP IS AHEAD IN EARLY TALLIES, BUT WITH A STRONGER OPPOSITION SHOWING THAN EXPECTED

India’s Election Commission says early counting of votes shows incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party comfortably ahead, but with a stronger than expected showing by the main opposition.

Some six hours into counting, Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP was ahead in 236 constituencies and had won two — including one uncontested — of 543 parliamentary seats.

The main opposition Congress party was leading in 99 constituencies.

The Election Commission does not release data on the percentage of votes tallied, but counting is expected to go on through the day. A total of some 642 million votes are being counted in the world’s largest democratic exercise.

Modi’s party is part of the National Democratic Alliance, whose parties were leading in 283 constituencies according to the early count, including the two won by BJP. The Congress party is part of the INDIA alliance, which was leading in 232 constituencies.

A total of 272 seats are needed for a majority in parliament.

INDIAN MARKETS ARE DOWN SHARPLY AS EARLY TALLIES SHOW A STRONGER CHALLENGE FROM THE OPPOSITION THAN EXPECTED

Indian markets, which closed at an all-time high Monday, were down sharply in midday trading Tuesday, after early leads showed fewer seats for Modi’s governing BJP than had been expected.

Modi’s party still showed a comfortable lead, according to early figures reported by India’s election commission. but was facing a stronger challenge from the opposition than exit polls had projected.

India’s benchmark stock indices, the NIFTY 50 and the BSE Sensex, were both down by more than 8% before recovering slightly. This followed a dip of more than 3% when markets opened.

The country’s stock markets have boomed under Modi, whose pro-market policies have made him popular among India’s corporations and businesspeople.

WORKERS TAKE HEAT PRECAUTIONS AS VOTES ARE COUNTED IN TEMPERATURES EXPECTED TOO REACH 106F

Temperatures in the Indian capital were down Tuesday from highs in the past week of 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), but election officials and political parties were nonetheless taking precautions as votes were being counted.

Workers carried cases of water into one air-conditioned counting station in New Delhi early in the morning in preparation, while tents outside for security personnel and others were outfitted with industrial evaporative coolers.

Temperatures in the morning hovered around 37 C (99 F) in New Delhi and were expected to rise to 41 C (106 F) by the end of the day.

At the headquarters of the opposition Congress party, a tent was set up outside, equipped with evaporative coolers, for waiting media.

WOMEN ARE A KEY VOTING BLOC IN INDIA’S 2024 ELECTION

Indian women are a key voting bloc with more of them voting in recent elections than ever before. Most poll experts expect women voters to play a decisive role in determining the 2024 election results.

Political parties have been wooing them with monthly cash handouts, subsidized cooking gas cylinders and low-interest loans. Many such programs have particularly helped Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party widen its support among them, especially in rural areas. The opposition alliance also tried to gain women’s votes by unveiling programs that promised financial aid of $1,200 per year to poor women, and promised to reserve 50% of government jobs for women if voted into power.

Women make up nearly 49% of India’s total electorate. Turnout has grown in each recent major election — of women who were eligible to vote, 53% voted in 2004; 56% in 2009; 65.5% in 2014; and 67% in 2019. Data for 2024 was not yet available but was estimated to resemble 2019’s female voter turnout.

COUNTING STARTS WITH POSTAL BALLOTS THEN MOVES TO ELECTRONIC ONES

The counting of some 642 million votes cast in India’s election is being done at various locations around the country by government employees. Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar said they were starting with postal ballots and then move on to combining the votes from India’s electronic voting machines.

The process is expected to be completed by the end of the day Tuesday.

India has close to 970 million eligible voters, and votes were cast at more than a million polling stations staggered over the last six weeks.

That brought the final phase into India’s hottest season, with temperatures higher than 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in some parts of the country, and Kumar said the election officials learned a valuable lesson.

“We should have completed the election at least one month before,” he said ahead of the start of the counting. “We shouldn’t have let it continue into so much heat.”

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Follow AP election coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/global-elections

By The Associated Press

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