Exit polls are predicting that the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Narendra Modi will become India's next prime minister.
The National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP could win India's national elections with a comfortable margin, according to numerous exit polls. The ruling Congress party, surveys show, may record huge losses.
The marathon elections conducted in nine phases and spread over five weeks registered a record turnout of 66%. The results will be declared on 16 May, four days after the conclusion of the polls.
At least 272 out of the 543 seats are required to form a government, and for the last several years the absence of a clear majority by any of the major national parties has necessitated alliances with regional ones.
A survey by research group CVoter projected 289 seats for the NDA with a +-3 percent error at the national level. The group had selected 166,901 respondents randomly in the 543 constituencies across the country where elections were held.
The same survey predicted 101 seats for the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
Other local news channels also predicted a win by wide margins for the NDA. The CNN-IBN projected 280 seats for the BJP-led alliance while the ABP channel drew an almost similar result of 281. The Headlines Today forecast stood at 272, India TV tallied 289 while News 24 estimated up to 340 seats going to the BJP alliance.
Most surveys have also predicted that the BJP will end up with 200 plus seats. If the party indeed does manage that number, it would be a marked improvement from their previous showing. In the 1999 mid-term polls, the party had managed 182 seats and formed the government with the support of its allies.
However, exit polls have a patchy record and the last two had over-estimated the BJP's share in the parliament. In 2004 and 2009, the Congress-led UPA had come to power with the help of outside support.
Regional parties, and their role in government formation, have also contributed to inaccurate exit polls predictions in the past.
Nevertheless, if the BJP wins more than 200 seats and the NDA manages more seats than the UPA's current 259, the new government will be the most stable in recent times, as it will not have to depend on unpredictable post-poll allies.
Throughout the election campaign, Modi's main emphasis was on the economy and development underpinned by slogans such as "toilets not temples" and "more governance, less government."
Expectation of NDA's rise had a marked effect on stock markets as they rose in anticipation of a strong and stable government after the exit polls were announced.
The Nifty index crossed a previous record of 6,871 points and surpassed the 7000-mark for the first time on the last day of elections, while the rupee reached its strongest level against the US dollar in 10 months, on Monday.