The governing Congress party will win India’s month-long elections and form the next government, media reports said today.
The news channels called the election in Congress’ favour today based on more than 70% of votes counted.
The reports set off celebrations and claims of success by party leaders.
“We will sweep the election. The Congress and its allies will form the government,” Congress leader Motilal Vora told the Press Trust of India news agency.
The CNN-IBN channel indicated the Congress-led alliance could win more than 240 seats, and the alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party could take 160. The NDTV channel gave Congress 241 and the BJP 165.
Other channels predicted similar results
If the trends continue it would be a better than expected result for Congress and a clear victory, but still short of the 272 seats needed to govern on its own.
While not conceding, BJP spokesman Balbir Punj called the results “disappointing”.
Congress “seems to have the upper hand,” said Venkaiah Naidu, another BJP leader.
As results came in, celebrations began outside the Congress party office. Party workers set off fireworks and were dancing in the streets carrying posters of party leader Sonia Gandhi.
The results would still require Congress to put together a coalition. India has been ruled by coalition governments for most of the last two decades, including the current coalition, led by the Congress party.
According to the constitution, a new parliament has to be in place by June 2.
The long, gruelling campaign season produced few central issues that resonated across the wildly diverse nation of 1.2 billion people and 714 million eligible voters. Total voter turnout was approximately 60%, the national election commission said, up slightly from 58% in the last national vote in 2004.