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LIVE! Modi govt 2.0 likely to be sworn in on May 29

May 23, 2019

23:50  Modi govt 2.0 likely to be sworn in on May 29:  
The BJP parliamentary board on Thursday passed a resolution hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership and thanking people for endorsing the party's agenda.

All the newly-elected BJP MPs may meet Saturday to elect Modi as their leader, following which he will meet the president to stake claim to form the new government, party sources said.

The oath-taking of the new government is likely to be held on May 29, sources said.

The party in its resolution described the victory as a positive mandate in support of Modi's pro-poor policies, clear stand on national security and its mantra of 'sabka saath, sabka vikas', which boosted India's profile in the world.

The party's parliamentary board also attacked the opposition for its efforts to spread confusion over the electoral process, an apparent reference to its doubts on EVMs, and said people have rejected its negative agenda.

It also thanked people of West Bengal for supporting it despite "violence" targeting BJP workers.

Noting the loss of the grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and the BJP's impressive show in north-east and Bengal, besides the rise in vote share in southern India, the resolution said these developments make it clear that the party has successfully won over these regions.

The party also hailed Modi for leading to a super-sized victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country. The party has won or is leading in more than 300 seats. 

-- PTI
23:25  BJP scores zero in four regions:  
After bitterly fought Lok Sabha elections, which lasted for over a month, BJP is emerging victorious with a thumping majority of more than 300 seats. 

Interestingly, BJP despite a stellar performance nationally, has also failed to impress the voters of three states and one union territory namely Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. 

The party, however, has scored exceptionally well in many of the other states. 

BJP Chief Amit Shah had claimed that the party's share was over 50 per cent in 17 states. 

"BJP won over 50 per cent votes in 17 states. In Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh we have got more than 50 per cent votes", Shah said while addressing party workers. 

-- ANI
23:01  US President Donald Trump congratulates Modi on triumph:  
US President Donald Trump congratulates PM Modi and his party on their "BIG" election victory!.

Trump, using his favourite mode of communication -- Twitter, wrote, "Great things are in store for US-India partnership with the return of PM Modi at the helm. I look forward to continuing our important work together!"

22:25  With pakodas, Kangana celebrates PM Modi's win:  
'Queen' Kangana Ranaut extended wishes to Modi on his party's performance. 

The 32-year-old actor opted for a unique yet appetizing way to congratulate PM Modi for his democratic victory. 

Kangana prepared some Pakora and Chai for her family. Sharing her pictures right from the kitchen, her team wrote, "#KanganaRanaut celebrates the legendary win of narendramodi and BJP4India at the #LokSabhaElections2019 by spending time with her family!"

In the series pictures, she can be seen cooking delicious Pakodas, wearing a taffy pink suit. In another picture, she was spotted enjoying the Indian delicacy with her family.

Sharing the same series of pictures, Kangana's sister Rangoli Chandel told that, "Kangana cooks rarely, when she is absolutely exhilarated, today she treated us with chai pakodas for narendramodi Ji's win #JaiHind #JaiBharat".

Bollywood Star Akshay Kumar also extended his wishes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP party.

"Heartiest congratulations Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji on the historic win. All your efforts to advance the nation and put it on the global map have been acknowledged. Wishing you an even more successful second term," Akshay tweeted.

Akshay Kumar was recently subjected to social media backlash after he did not cast vote during the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections.

After being trolled by many, Akshay Kumar, with a tweet, said he does not understand the "unwarranted interest and negativity" about his citizenship and added that he is a tax-payer in India and intends to make the country 'stronger and stronger.'
21:56  Vice President Naidu congratulates people for voting for stability:  
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday congratulated the people of India for voting for stability in the Lok Sabha elections.

"I congratulate the people of India for making their choice so clear with resounding clarity and voting for stability. I congratulate the Election Commission for the smooth and efficient conduct of elections," the vice president said in a release.

"I congratulate all the winning parties and candidates in whom the people have reposed immense trust," he added.

"I hope that all of us irrespective of party affiliations, will continue to deepen the roots of our rich democratic tradition and focus our collective energies on development, reforms, and enhancement of the quality of our people's lives," said Naidu. 

-- ANI
21:21  'Kaam bolega': Vivek Oberoi on BJP's victory:  
Actor Vivek Oberoi whose biopic on PM Modi is set for release on Friday was enthused about BJP's victory in the 17th Lok Sabha election and said the win was an indication that people respected the good work done by Prime minister Narendra Modi and not dynastic politics.

"India has changed. Today it is not your work that speaks for you, not your lineage, 'Yahan pe aapke baap ka naam nahi, aapka kaam bolega'," Oberoi said.

The actor also urged those who had opposed the release of his film to go and watch the biopic 'PM Narendra Modi', saying that they might get inspired and learn to become better leaders.

"I know it is the time for you (Congress) to introspect but I would humbly request Rahul Gandhi and other senior Congress leaders and Opposition to watch our movie since it is an inspirational film and may inspire them. You may learn something from the life of Modi to become a good and better leader," Oberoi said.

The actor also said that even the poster of the biopic bore the message that "We are unstoppable."

Pointing out that BJP under the leadership of Modi had witnessed a landslide victory he urged people to go out and celebrate the victory by watching the film in theatres.

"I want people to celebrate Modi's victory along with their family in theatres. It is an inspirational movie and will arouse the feeling of patriotism," Oberoi said.

-- ANI
20:48  Election chatter on Twitter sees massive jump at 396 mn tweets:  
Twitter was abuzz during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, with as many as 396 million tweets being sent out on the platform since January this year, recording a phenomenal jump over the previous general elections.
In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the micro-blogging platform had generated more than 56 million election-related tweets between January 1 and May 12, 2014, although the user base at that time was far lower.

Twitter, however, does not provide country-wise break up of its user numbers.

On Thursday alone, 3.2 million tweets were sent out as counting of the votes progressed through the day. Interestingly, a third of these were recorded between 3 pm and 4 pm, around the same time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his victory post.

"The volume of conversation around #LokSabhaElections2019 including Tweets from candidates, political parties, citizens and the news media ensured that from 1 January 2019 till 23 May 2019, Twitter saw more than 396 million Tweets on the platform...," a statement from Twitter said.

Modi's tweet -- "Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat" -- got over a lakh retweets and 3.18 lakh likes.

Modi emerged as the most mentioned political personality throughout the course of elections, while BJP was the most mentioned political party.
"@NarendraModi emerged as the most mentioned figure during the entire course of #LokSabhaElections2019, and @BJP4India handle along with the handles of their National Democratic Alliance members took 53 per cent of the mentions on Twitter," the statement said.
Congress's Twitter handle, along with handles of other members of the United Progressive Alliance, received 37 per cent of the mentions.
-- PTI
20:31  Amid fear of clashes, Kolkata streets empty out by evening:  Streets in the metropolis emptied by early Thursday evening amid fear of clashes as election trends poured in with the ruling Trinamool Congress and the surging BJP locked in a neck and neck battle for the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. People reached to the safety of their homes before the formal declaration of results, fearing violent fallout of the poll outcome amid a bitter election battle between the two parties, leaders of which were involved in a no-holds barred attack in a grueling two-month long campaign.
20:26  Na ruke, na thake, na jhuke: Modi salutes BJP :  
Back to Modi's speech at the BJP HQ.  

"Na ruke, na thake, na jhuka (never stopped, got tired or bowed) when it came to staying with our ideologies -- that is the uniqueness of the BJP.

"I was busy today. So I couldn't pay attention to results. I don't have much information about it. But I was briefed by party president.I'll see it in detail. But from what he told me, that itself indicates that political pundits will have to change their 20th century thinking.

"This is the first election where price rise was not an issue... opposition leaders could not raise a single issue of corruption.  Neither could they make a single accusation of corruption against our government. 

"People who have played in the name of caste for years have been given a strong response.

"Today, India has only two castes - those who are poor and those who want to eradicate poverty.People who have played in the name of caste for years have been given a strong response."
20:18  Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal wins from Bikaner:  We'll get back to Modi's speech in a bit... but first a few more results have come in. 

Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal won the Bikaner seat by defeating his cousin and Congress rival Madan Gopal Meghwal, who had taken voluntary retirement from the Indian Police Service to contest the Lok Sabha election. 

Arjun Ram, who won the seat for the third time, defeated his cousin by 2,64,081 votes. While he polled 6,57,743 votes, Madan Gopal received 3,93,662 votes. The seat has been a BJP stronghold. Bollywood actor Dharmendra had won from Bikaner in 2004 followed by Meghwal in 2009 and 2014.
20:12  You have filled this beggar's bowl with win: PM:  
PM Modi addressing party workers at BJP headquarters after Amit Shah's speech to the chants of 'Modi Modi'.

"Aaj svayam Meghraja bhi is vijay utsav mein shareek hone ke liye hamare beech hain," he says. It's raining in Delhi, for those of you, who are not in the national capital.  

"Since the country got independence, so many elections took place, but the maximum voting took place in this election, and that too in 40-42 degree temperature. That in itself is a miracle.

"The turnout figure of 2019 is in itself the greatest event in the history of the democratic world. 

"This is democracy's biggest event and I dedicate this victory to the people of India. 

"Today, the 11 crore citizens have filled the jholi (bag) of this beggar. 

"If someone has won, it's Hindustan that has won, it's democracy that has won, it's public that has won, & therefore, all BJP & NDA people with humility dedicate this victory to the public. I congratulate all the winners, no matter from which party or which region they contested."
19:56  Narendra Modi addresses the crowd after Amit Shah is done with the  accolades for the PM. 
19:55  Modi is superhero of BJP's super victory: Shah:   BJP president addresses a cheering crowd of BJP workers saying, Narendra Modi is the superhero of BJP's super victory. 

"Congress has drawn a "big zero" in 17 states and Union Territories," Shah says listing the states. 

"It is victory of people, it is a victory of PM Modi's Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas (with all, development for all) policy. In 17 states, BJP has got more than 50 per cent votes.

"This is a victory of people's love. No place for caste based politics soon," Amit Shah said. 

"Even after so much violence and rigging, BJP won 18 seats in West Bengal. It tells that in coming days, BJP will establish its might in West Bengal," Shah said. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accorded a grand welcome on Thursday evening at the BJP headquarters as he led the party to a stupendous victory in the Lok Sabha polls.  

 BJP chief Amit Shah greeted Modi on his arrival at the party office following which hundreds of BJP workers showered rose petals on the two leaders. Modi waved to the crowd, acknowledging the warm welcome accorded to him.  

He also flashed victory sign evoking huge cheers from the crowd. Members of BJP Parliamentary Board including a number of union ministers were present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi won from the Varanasi seat defeating his nearest rival SP's Shalini Yadav by margin of 4,79,505 votes.
19:36  Modi, Shah pay tribute to the busts of the party founders Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
19:33  Amit Shah begins his address to chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and asks the crowd to applaud the PM. 
19:32  Modi, Shah's victory lap at BJP HQ:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the BJP headquarters in Delhi to a shower of rose petals by party workers beside themselves with excitement as they chant, 'Modi, Modi, Modi'.

Amit Shah, the man who is as much behind the BJP's spectacular win in the Lok Sabha polls, it is believed was waiting for the PM on the main road with an umbrella as its been raining in Delhi. 

Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Shivraj Chouhan with Modi on dais. JP Nadda, Thawar Chand Gehlot also there. 

The PM and Amit Shah garland busts of the founders of the party -- Deen Dayal Upadhaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. 

The PM is expected to address party workers any time now. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP towards a super-sized victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country. 

With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will surpass its 2014 performance. The BJP tally (total) is 302, leading (253), won (49). 
19:19  Naidu resigns as Andhra CM:  N Chandrababu Naidu submits his resignation to the Governor as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh after TDP's defeat in assembly elections. 
19:16  Ravi Kishan wins :  BJP candidate from Gorakhpur, Ravi Kishan, wins by 3,01,664 votes. Says, "This is a victory of the truth." 
19:13  Mixed bag for Pawars: Sule takes decisive lead:   The trends for Lok Sabha elections have so far hinted at a mixed bag for the Sharad Pawar clan in Maharashtra. While Supriya Sule, daughter of the NCP chief and sitting MP from Baramati in Pune district, has taken a lead with 6,83,705 lakh  votes over her BJP rival Kanchan Kool, Pawar's grandnephew Parth is trailing by 5,03,375 votes in Maval constituency.

Parth is pitted against Shiv Sena stalwart Shrirang Barne. He is a son of senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. The NCP had turned the Maval contest into a prestige battle with Ajit Pawar himself camping in the constituency in the run-up to elections.

A senior NCP leader said lack of organisational base in the constituency and delay in announcement of the party nominee cost the party the seat. 
-- PTI
19:07  Giriraj Singh wins Begusarai by a margin of 4.20 lakh votes:   Union minister and firebrand BJP leader Giriraj Singh retained the Begusarai seat for his party, trouncing his nearest rival Kanhaiya Kumar of the CPI by a staggering margin of over four lakh votes. Singh, who had moved to Begusarai from Nawada, after initial reluctance over having to give up his sitting seat, got 6.88 lakh votes out of a total of 12.17 lakhs polled on April 29.
19:02  Manish Tewari wins:  Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib, Manish Tewari wins. 

"This is the victory of Shri Anandpur Sahib's faith in me! This win is peoples' support for Congress Party's progressive vision and Hon'ble CM @Capt_Amarinder Ji's incomparable leadership! I am humbled by this massive outpouring of love in my abilities! Thank you!"
18:58  Dig-gi this?:  Smiles all around now that the leads indicate Pragya Singh Thakur is set to win in Bhopal. An unlikely picture of the BJP candidate and Congress' Digvijaya Singh at the counting center. 
18:53  Mayawati: Prime ministerial 'aspirations' on hold:  Mayawati never said it in so many words. But the BSP supremo threw enough hints during the poll campaign that she considered herself to be in the race for the prime minister's post, should the opposition manage to contain the BJP. 

At a rally in Ambedkarnagar, for example, she recalled that she has been elected to the Lok Sabha from that seat in the past. "Time will tell. If all goes well, I will have to seek election from here again," she said, seemingly referring to the possibility of her entering Parliament through a by-election later, if something opened up in New Delhi. 

The results, however, have been a disappointment for the four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao famously called a "miracle of democracy' when she became the CM the first time in 1995. 

The BJP has trumped her Bahujan Samaj Party's alliance with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in the state. Yet her own party has done better than in 2014 Lok Sabha polls when it drew a complete blank. 

The alliance in UP alliance happened against all odds, ending a bitter parting of ways between the two sides nearly 25 years ago. SP workers had then attacked a BSP legislators' meeting at the state guest house in Lucknow and reportedly roughed her up. 

Mayawati referred to the infamous episode more than once even during the joint press conference where she and Akhilesh Yadav announced their 'gathbandhan' earlier this year. -- PTI
18:39  Modi axes 'Chowkidar' prefix:   Narendra Modi removes the 'Chowkidar' prefix from his Twitter handle. Expect all his party leaders and to follow suit. 

This is the explanation: "Now, the time has come to take the Chowkidar Spirit to the next level. 

Keep this spirit alive at every moment and continue working for India's progress.  

The word 'Chowkidar' goes from my Twitter name but it remains an integral part of me. Urging you all to do the same too!"

The campaign was launched days after the Lok Sabha polls were announced on March 10 to counter Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's repeated "chowkidar chor hai" (watchman is a thief) jibes on Modi over alleged irregularities in the Rafale jet deal.

Gandhi had latched on to the jibe in most of his election rallies.

During the 2014 election campaign Modi had said that he would work like a chowkidar to protect people's money and interests once elected.
18:20  Rahul not quitting as party prez: Surjewala:  Reports of Congress President Rahul Gandhi offering his resignation are incorrect, says Randeep Singh Surjewala. When asked on fixing responsibility for the loss, Rahul Gandhi said, "This is between my party and I. Between me and the Congress CWC." 
18:18  Accept people's verdict: Priyanka:  Congress General Secretary for UP east, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra: We accept people's verdict and congratulate PM Modi and BJP workers.
18:06  Rahul concedes Amethi, congratulates Modi:  
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference congratulating PM Narendra Modi for the decisive mandate given by the Indian people and concedes the Lok Sabha seat of Amethi to BJP's Smriti Irani. 

"I had said people are supreme and today they have given their verdict. I congratulate BJP and Narendra Modi for the win. I want to tell the PM, the fight is ideological. 

"Today is the day of the mandate and I don't want to colour the decision by getting into what went wrong, he said. 

"Frankly, today is the not the day to discuss what I think went wrong because people of India have clearly decided that Narendra Modi is going to be their Prime Minister and as an Indian I respect that.

Rahul also conceded defeat in Amethi, saying, "I respect the decision and congratulate Smriti Iraniji. I request her to return the love Amethi gave her."
17:48  It's just a start, I won't quit politics: Urmila on loss:  Congress' Mumbai North Lok Sabha candidate Urmila Matondkar Thursday said though she has lost her maiden election, she won't quit politics as she has a long way to go. In her electoral debut, the actor contested against BJP veteran Gopal Shetty.

As per the latest trends available, Shetty has taken a decisive lead of 4,52,226 votes over Matondkar. "I am going to continue politics, as I've been saying from day one. This has been an absolute glorious battle for me. I am standing defeated in front of you but do I look like a lost person?" Matondkar told reporters. "The spirit, the conscience of a person matters. I am extremely happy I fought this election with a lot of dignity and integrity," she added. Matondkar said she looks at the current situation as a "humble beginning." "The experience was absolutely fantastic. I doubt anyone across india had the kind of journey that I had. I am proud of my journey. I feel this is just the start. It is a long way from here and I am more than ready for it," she added. Earlier in the day, the actor had alleged that there was a mismatch in signatures on an electronic voting machine (EVM) form.

When asked about it, Matondkar said, "I congratulate him (Shetty) on his victory... But we have found some discrepancies (in the EVM) and have made a report which we will submit to the election commission by the end of the day".
17:42  Amarinder Singh on why Congress lost Bhatinda :  This is why the Congress lost Bhatinda, according to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

The CM criticised his cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu by asserting that Indians, especially servicemen, will not tolerate hugging the Pakistani army chief.

While replying to a question about Sidhu's alleged pro-Pakistan stand affecting the Congress performance in Lok Sabha polls, Singh said, "I have said since day one, Indians, especially servicemen, will not tolerate hugging the Pakistani army chief. Every day there is some ceasefire violation, our soldiers lose their lives. It is the Pakistani general who gives the order for these things and you cannot go and hug him".

Upon being asked by Navjot Sigh Sidhu's statements denting the party's electoral prospects, he said, "I think it has cost us Bhatinda. Sidhu is the minister of urban development and we have lost in urban areas like Bhatinda and Gurdaspur. Cities are the places that Congress used to win. There is a reason because urban development is not there. I will take this issue up."

Singh also expressed shock over Congress trailing from Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency and said that people have given preference to an actor over an experienced candidate.

"Our candidate Sunil Jakhar has worked very hard in the constituency and had spent every weekend there. It is very unfortunate that he lost. I am unable to understand how a new candidate comes and wins because he is an actor. People give him preference rather than experience. Maybe as the democracy grows people may start thinking differently," said Singh. 
-- ANI
17:35  Harsimrat Kaur wins from Bhatinda :  SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal wins from the Bhatinda Lok Sabha seat: People of Bathinda went with development, voted for 'Sabka saath, Sabka Vikas', I thank them, she said earlier as leads indicated she was heading for a win. 
17:27  I salute every BJP karyakarta: PM:  Narendra Modi @narendramodi second tweet since the leads indicate the NDA will be in the driver's seat for a second term. "Thank you India! The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people's aspirations. I salute every BJP Karyakarta for their determination, perseverance & hardwork. They went home to home, elaborating on our development agenda."

The BJP has repeated the near improbable feat of repeating its landslide victory in north and west India with its vote share jumping over 50 per cent in many states, as the party appeared set to surpass its 2014 total of 282 Lok Sabha seats in this general election.

The saffron tsunami- powered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma, his planks of nationalism and development, and the BJP's organisational heft-rolled on in the Hindi heartland once more and even the apparently formidable SP-BSP combine has been blown away.

In reality, the BJP has bettered its show this time as its vote share in several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, is well over 50 per cent, nothing short of a statistical wonder in Indian electoral history. 

The BJP has won or is leading in more than 300 seats across the country. BJP president Amit Shah's claim of achieving over 50 per cent vote share to ensure the defeat of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh came true as the saffron party pocketed more than 49 per cent votes, as per the latest Election Commission figures.
17:20  Pragya Singh Thakur is leading with 298185 votes :  BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur is leading with 298185 votes from Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh). Congress' Digvijaya Singh is trailing. 
17:10  Sunny side up:  Punjab: Actor Sunny Deol meets supporters in Gurdaspur after trends show that he is leading from the constituency. 
17:07  The first result declared in Uttar Pradesh: The Bahraich seat goes to BJP.
17:02  Ruling coalition surges towards massive victory in Bihar:  The ruling BJP-JDU-LJP alliance in Bihar looks all set for a resounding victory in the Lok Sabha elections as suggest the counting trends.  BJP is leading on 16 seats, while its allies Janata Dal (United) (JDU) on 15 seats and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) on six seats. 

In all, the alliance is leading on 37 seats.

Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is leading on two seats, while the Congress on one seat. The others allies of RJD-led grand alliance are trailing as the counting advances towards the conclusion.

In Patna Sahib, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is leading against Congress' Shatrughan Sinha by a margin of over 92,797 votes. In Pataliputra seat, Lalu Prasad Yadav's daughter and RJD candidate Misha Bharti is leading over BJP's Ram Kripal Yadav by a margin of 80,27 votes.

At Arrah, RK Singh of BJP is ahead of Raju Yadav of CPI-M-L (Liberation) by a margin of 58,398 votes. At Jamui (SC) Chirag Kumar Paswan, son of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan of Lok Jan Shakti Party is ahead of Bhudeo Choudhary of Rashtriya Lok Samta Party by 160016 votes.

At Begusarai, Giriraj Singh of BJP is ahead of Kanhaiya Kumar, CPI by a huge margin of 1,99,350 votes. At Buxar, Ashwini Kumar Choubey of BJP is ahead of RJD's Jagadanand Singh by 41,144 votes.

At Munger Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh of JDU is ahead of Neelam Devi of the Congress party by 48,666 votes.

At Purvi Champaran, Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh of BJP is ahead of Akash Kumar Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party by 97,814 votes.

At Saran, Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP is leading Chandrika Roy of Rashtriya Janata Dal by 76,153 votes.

The opposition parties that contested the polls together were RJD, Congress, Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM), Mukesh Sahni's Vikasshil Insan Party (VIP), and Sharad Yadav's Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD).
16:56  Union cabinet to meet tomorrow:  The Union Cabinet will meet Friday evening to recommend the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. The meet will be held a day after the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections in which the NDA is all set to retain power. After the Cabinet's recommendation is passed in the form of a resolution, President Ram Nath Kovind will dissolve the present Lok Sabha, the term of which is ending on June 3.

The 17th Lok Sabha has to be constituted before June 3 and the process to form a new House will be initiated when the three Election Commissioners meet the President in the next few days to hand over the list of newly-elected members.

After the meeting of the Union Cabinet, the Council of Ministers, which also comprises ministers of state, will meet at the South Block office of the prime minister, official sources said Thursday. -- PTI
16:39  Har Har Modi chants in every BJP office:   Celebrations across BJP offices across the country. President Amit Shah arrived at the party headquarters in New Delhi and was welcomed by party workers.

In Lucknow, saffron hues dominated the party's state headquarters in Lucknow with jubilant party workers wearing saffron stoles, adorning marigold flowers around their necks and holding lotus cutouts as the trends indicated a thumping victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The BJP workers also burst crackers and danced to drum beats as women supporters wore saffron attire and painted their nails in the same hue. 

In a stark contrast, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party offices wore a forlorn look with no party workers or supporters in sight. Inside the Bharatiya Janata Party office, women workers led the celebration by shouting slogans and distributing sweets. 

They held cutouts of Modi and banners reading 'Har Har Modi' and 'Bachcha surakshit Godi mein, Desh surakshit Modi mein'. On the other hand, road before the BSP office wore a deserted look. 

A couple of OB vans deployed by the media were the only vehicles seen outside the party office. A stone's throw away is the Congress office where news persons outnumbered party supporters. Under the scorching sun, even shop owners selling campaign material outside the SP office sat in stunned silence as those gathered around the tea kiosks talked in hushed tones.
16:25  Prashant Kishor wins the day for Jagan:  Poll strategist and JD-U leader Prashant Kishor notches up another victory in Andhra Pradesh. "Thank you Andhra and colleagues at @IndianPAC for the landslide victory. Congratulations and best wishes to the new CM @ysjagan."

He also strategised for the Shiv Sena. 
16:20  Kharge concedes defeat:  Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress: We accept the result in Gulbarga, the verdict that people gave us, we are accepting it. We believe in democracy. We will discuss how to correct our mistakes and how to strengthen the party. 
16:18   MP: Cong leader suffers heart attack at counting centre, dies:   A local Congress leader died of cardiac arrest at a counting center at Sehore in Madhya Pradesh Thursday. Ratan Singh Thakur, district Congress chief, suffered a heart attack around 10 am as counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls was underway. He was taken to the district hospital but could not be saved, a Congress leader said. Chief Minister Kamal Nath condoled the death, saying that Thakur was an "energetic, hard-working and friendly person".
16:15  This is for you, Didi:  A BJP supporter holds a poster at the party headquarters in New Delhi. The witticism refers to the West Bengal CM's alleged ire over people chanting  "Jai Shri Ram" in her state as much as the huge inroads the party has made in the state. 

The TMC led with 22, BJP at 19 and 1 for the Congress.
16:03  Feel like a batsman who has scored century while his team has lost: Tharoor:  Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who seemed headed for a win from Thiruvananthapuram, said he feels like a batsman who has scored a century while his team has lost. Tharoor's remarks came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards what looks set to be a resounding victory for a second term in office.

"As my lead nears 50,000 with 72 per cent counted, I feel like a batsman who has scored a century while his team has lost! It's a bittersweet emotion I will take some time to reflect on," Tharoor tweeted. 

Tharoor, who is eyeing a third straight win from Thiruvananthapuram, was leading by 48,731 votes over his nearest rival of the BJP. -- PTI
15:59  Advani congratulates Modi:  LK Advani, BJP, goes with the flow and congratulates PM Modi for his and the party's victory: 

"Heartiest congratulations to Narendrabhai Modi for steering BJP towards this unprecedented victory in elections. Amitbhai Shah as BJP President & all dedicated workers of the party have put in enormous effort in making sure that BJP's message reaches every voter.

"It's such a wonderful feeling that in a country as large & diverse as India, electoral process has been so successfully completed & for that, my compliments to the electorate & all the agencies involved. May our great nation be blessed with a bright future ahead."
15:54  People rejected opposition's 'negative' politics: Adityanath:  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Thursday said the people of the country have rejected opposition's "negative" politics as he congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the BJP's imminent victory in the Lok Sabha polls. 

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 298 seats, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls. 

"I want to congratulate Modiji for the victory of BJP and its allies in the Lok Sabha polls. The people have discarded negative politics of opposition. They have showed that the politics of 'pariwarwad', 'vanshwad' and 'jatiwad' (nepotism and casteism) will not succeed anymore," Adityanath said. He said the BJP had got the support of every section of the society. "The work done by Modiji for internal security, development of infrastructure and welfare of the people worked," he said.--  PTI
15:45   Congress heavyweights Dikshit, Maken face defeat :  The Bhartiya Janta Party is leading in all the seven parliamentary constituencies of Delhi, pushing Congress heavyweights like Sheila Dikshit and Ajay Maken towards defeat.

As per the Election Commission website, all BJP candidates have comfortable leads in all the seven seats ensuring victory for the party.

In North East Delhi, the sitting MP and chief of Delhi BJP unit, Manoj Tiwari, is leading by over 2.5 lakh votes against the three-time former chief minister Sheila Dikshit. Earlier today, Tiwari told ANI that his party will come back to power with more than 350 seats.
15:44  Party workers throng BJP HQ :  That's the BJP Headquarters in New Delhi alive with jubilant workers. 

The Parliamentary Board of BJP will meet today in the evening while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the party workers here at 5.30 pm, as Thursday's counting of votes showed the ruling party retaining power with an absolute majority. 
15:34  Cong should retire Rahul: Ex-Congressman :   Congress president Rahul Gandhi is not cut out for politics and the party should give him a "decent retirement", Assam Finance Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said Wednesday. 

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power as it led in over 300 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with about 50, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.

"I must have met him (Rahul) around 20 times in my life... I feel pity for him. Sonia Gandhi (UPA chairperson and former Congress chief) has thrust him on the Congress. He is a person who has come from a privileged background, he doesn't respect his colleagues," Sarma said.

"He (Rahul) should be given a decent retirement because if he does not quit politics, then in India the next 25 years will be dominated by the ruling party (BJP) and there won't be any opposition, and there would only be BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi," he said.

The minister said any elected Congress president minus a dynastic background will be good enough to lead the party better than Rahul Gandhi.  
15:12  Hopefully new govt at Centre will do justice with J-K, says Farooq Abdullah:   National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who is all set to win from the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, Thursday expressed hope that the new government at the Centre would do justice with the state and engage in a dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue. 

Speaking to reporters at the NC headquarters, Farooq Abdullah thanked his party leaders, workers and the people of Srinagar constituency for their support. 

He is leading in Srinagar by 67,159 votes over PDP candidate Aga Mohsin. He has bagged 82,166 votes till now. "I thank (NC vice-president) Omar (Abdullah), our party leaders and the people of Kashmir, especially the people of Srinagar constituency - all the mothers, sisters, elders and youth for supporting the NC," he said. 

"This Parliament will not be easy. There are several important issues with respect to J-K because we have to fight them on their intention to do away with the Article 370 and 35A. Another issue is that they want to divide the Muslims and Hindus in the country; we have to fight that as well," the NC chief said. 

"This country belongs to all and we have to keep this country strongly on that secular path which our Constitution enshrines. We have to protect the Constitution, drafted by (BR) Ambedkar, and take the country forward," he said. Farooq Abdullah said for peace to be established in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan will have to come to the dialogue table and resolve this issue.
15:05  Sensex falls 312 points :  From an all-time high of 40,000 this morning, the benchmark BSE Sensex fell 312 points to 38,848.  
15:02  Congratulatory messages pour in for Modi:  China's Xi Jinping, Japanese PM Shinzō Abe congratulate PM Narendra Modi. Russia's President Vladimir Putin sends a telegram to the PM: "with the convincing victory of the BJP at the general parliamentary elections." King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck congratulates Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a telephonic conversation. 
14:59  India wins yet again, Modi tweets:  PM Narendra Modi reacts to the 344 lead that India gave the NDA. 

Sabka saath + sabka vikas + sabka vishwas = Vijayi Bharat. "

Together we grow. 
Together we prosper. 
Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.  
India wins yet again! 

Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards what looks set to be a resounding victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, national security and Hindu pride struck a chord among voters across large swathes of India. 

With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP was expected to surpass its 2014 performance. It was leading in 296 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in seven phases, demolishing the combined opposition with the Congress Party stuck at 51 seats, according to the trends. 

Modi himself was leading in Varanasi with a margin of over 3 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah was ahead in Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5 lakh votes. 
14:45  Ravi Shankar Prasad leads:  BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad leading over Congress's Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib (Bihar) with a margin of 144249 votes. 
14:40  Smriti edges past Rahul in Amethi :  Quite the cliffhanger in Amethi. BJP's Smriti Irani is leading over Rahul Gandhi by 11226 votes from the Gandhi bastion where he has always won quite easily. 

Rahul Gandhi is also contesting from Wayanad in Kerala, where he is leading by over 2 lakh votes.

Amethi, a dusty, largely rural constituency around 130 km from UP capital Lucknow, features one of the most watched battles in this election.

Smriti Irani campaigned aggressively in Amethi, where she had contested and lost to Rahul Gandhi in 2014 but had managed to reduce his winning margin to 1 lakh. She has visited the constituency regularly over the past five years and launched a relentless campaign against what the party believes to be the Congress and Rahul Gandhi's failures in Amethi.

Rahul Gandhi, locals in Amethi say, has hardly visited his constituency and development work is at a standstill. 
14:32  NCP regrets Cong's performance; BJP leaders laud Modi's leadership:  With election trends suggesting the NDA making huge gains, UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party Thursday conceded defeat of the alliance in the Lok Sabha polls, saying "unfortunately" the Congress' performance was not up to the mark. Saffron party leaders have attributed the performance to the "leadership" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, and termed it "historic". 

The BJP, on its own, is leading in over 290 seats, while its main rival Congress is ahead in 52 of the 542 Lok Sabha constituencies that went to polls across the country. The NCP is leading at four seats. 

"We have some setbacks and we find that unfortunately the Congress didn't perform up to the mark," senior NCP leader Majeed Memon told a private news channel. If the trends stay until final results, the BJP would have improved on its 2014 performance when it had won 282 seats on its own in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Adding the seats won by its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could win 343 seats, up from 336 in 2014. 

Swaraj India president and political analyst Yogendra Yadav told a private TV channel, "This is clear mandate for the Modi-led BJP government...Caste combination looks good on paper but merely caste combination does not work. You need a big loud message that opposition did not have." 

"Combination of (Narendra) Modi and (Amit) Shah is very unique and important. This victory is a result of the leadership of Modi and Shah, and the hardwork of lakhs of party workers," said Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar.
14:23  Omar wonders if 'Chowkidar chor hai' was the right slogan :  
Omar Abdullah, National Conference: Who can say what would've happened if Balakot had not happened. But it is the truth that post-Balakot the opposition lost most of its steam. There are many issues we can discuss on. If 'Chowkidar chor hai' was a right slogan, if it was right to focus on Rafale.

"If we presented rural distress, unemployment, economic slowdown properly. If we should've questioned Pulwama instead of Balakot. They say 'Once horse has bolted what's the point of closing stable door?'. If horse comes in hand after 5 yrs, fine, else it'll go ahead."
14:16  Israel PM congratulates 'friend' Modi :  Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu tweets congratulations to his friend Narendra Modi. The tweet written in Hindi, says, "Mere dost Narendra Modi aapke prabhavshali chunavi jeet per hardik badhai! Yeh chunavi natije ek bar phir duniya ke sabse bade loktantra mein aapke natritva ko sabit karte hain. Hum sath milkar Bharat aur Israel ke beech ghanisht mitrata ko majboot karni jari rakhenge. Bahut badhai, mere dost." 
14:08  Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah: Mehbooba:   Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has congratulated PM Modi for his "historic win" and said that it is time for the Congress to get an Amit Shah. "Congratulations to Narendra Modi ji for a historic mandate. Today surely belongs to BJP and it's allies. Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah," she tweeted.

Truer words were never said. 

Accepting the verdict with grace, Mufti said, "Ive been fortunate to get the love & affection of my people. They have every right to express their anger for my failings. Accept their verdict with humility. Congratulations to winning candidates from NC. Im grateful to my party workers & colleagues."

The National Conference is leading on three Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir, while the BJP has opened huge leads in two constituencies of the state. Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is trailing at the third spot in the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, where the NC's Hasnain Masoodi is leading and Congress state president G A Mir is in second place.  

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah is leading by 48,000 votes over the PDP's Aga Mohsin.
13:59  Prakash Raj leaves counting centre after realising he's losing :  Actor Prakash Raj, who is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate from Bengaluru Central, on Thursday left a counting centre midway after learning that he was trailing at number three behind the BJP and the Congress. 

The National Award winning actor is pitted against Rizwan Arshad of the Congress and sitting BJP MP P C Mohan. A video posted by a prominent Karnataka daily on Twitter showed Raj, sporting a slight smile, leaving the counting centre with his supporters in tow. 

Mohan was leading from the seat with over 4.9 lakh votes as against Arshad's tally of 4.7 lakh votes. Raj was way behind at 23,980 votes, according to the Election Commission.

Bengaluru Central is traditionally a BJP bastion, with Mohan winning the seat in both the 2009 and 2014 elections. 

On May 19, the actor trashed the exit polls which showed a clean sweep for the ruling party in the polls. "With the EXIT POLLS... Let some DAY DREAM that NIGHTMARE will come back. But ON 23rd... I BELIEVE CITIZENS will PROVE it WRONG... Till then let's sing and celebrate... What BAPU JI Taught us...," he had posted. 

Raj has been vocal about his views on the current BJP-led government at the Centre. He has also been one of those seeking justice for his friend and journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot outside her residence in September 2017. 

The actor earlier claimed that Bollywood filmmakers stopped offering him roles as he has been critical of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government. Raj is the latest celebrity to join politics from south after veterans Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. -- PTI

Also read the interview with Raj last month: 'The common man does not elect the PM'

13:48  Israel congratulates Modi:  After Sri Lanka, Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu congratulates Prime Minister NarendraModi, and says, "will continue to strengthen our friendship between India and Israel".
13:47  All losers are not losers: Mamata:  West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee @MamataOfficial tweets: "Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review and then we will share our views with you all. Let the counting process be completed fully and the VVPATs matched." 

The ruling All India Trinamool Congress in West Bengal is leading in 23 out of 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, while the BJP is ahead in 17 seats, as per initial trends of the Election Commission. 

The Indian National Congress is leading in one constituency, while the Left is yet to go ahead in any of the 35 constituencies, for which the leads are available. 

Union minister of state Babul Supriyo is leading in Asansol seat by 31,670 votes against Moon Moon Sen of AITC.

Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of AITC supremo Mamata Banerjee, is leading by 17,717 votes in Diamond Harbour constituency. He is a sitting MP from the seat.

In Kolkata North constituency, two-time AITC MP from the seat Sudip Bandopadhyay is leading by 8,010 votes against Rahul Sinha of the BJP. Former president Pranab Mukherjee's son Abhijit is trailing by 14,333 votes against Khalilur Rahman of the AITC in Jangipur constituency. 

Abhijit Mukherjee had won the seat by a narrow margin of 8,161 votes in the 2014 general elections. 

In the prestigious Kolkata South constituency, Mala Roy of AITC is leading by 44627 votes against BJP's Chandra Bose, the grand-nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In Baharampur, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the INC is leading by 7,402 votes against Apurba Sarkar of the AITC.

TMC: 23, BJP: 17, CONG: 1, LEFT: 0

Image: Celebrations outside the BJP office at Mumbai's Nariman Point. Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani.
13:35  Priyanka meets Rahul as Cong stares at defeat:  With trends painting a dismal picture for the Congress in Lok Sabha elections, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met her brother and party president Rahul Gandhi at his residence.

Even Priyanka's formal entry into politics could not act as a saving grace for the Congress. She was made in-charge of the party's fortunes in eastern Uttar Pradesh, but despite her high-octane campaign her party is ahead on just one seat -- her mother Sonia Gandhi from Raebareli.

Rahul Gandhi is facing a tough battle in Amethi as BJP rival Smriti Irani is leading from the seat, though by a slim margin of a little over 2,000 votes. 
However, he is leading from Kerala's Wayanad.

As per trends post noon, the ruling BJP appears to be storming back to power with a comfortable majority on its own for the second consecutive time and is set to cross the 300-mark in the Lok Sabha along with its NDA allies.

On the other hand, Congress was way behind BJP, leading in only 51 seats. Its ally DMK has put up a good show leading in 22 of the 30 seats in Tamil Nadu. 

The Congress was leading in eight of the nine seats it contested in the state. The party was also doing well in Kerala where it was leading in 15 out of total 20 parliamentary seats. -- ANI

BJP+: 342, CONG+: 91
13:09   States where BJP is NOT leading:  
Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP+ was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 341seats while the Congress+ trailed far behind with 90, for all 542 seats that went to polls.

Here are the states where the BJP is NOT leading. 

West Bengal: 42 seats
TMC: 24 seats
BJP: 17 seats
INC: 1
Left Front: 0

Andhra Pradesh: 25 seats
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party: 24
Telugu Desam: 1
BJP: 0
Telangana: 17 seats

TRS: 9
BJP: 4
INC: 3

Odisha: 29 seats
BJD: 14
BJP: 7
INC: 0

Tamil Nadu: 39 seats
Status Known: 38 seats
DMK: 23
INC: 8
BJP ally (AIADMK): 2
CPI: 2
CPI(M): 2

Kerala: 20 seats
INC: 15
CPI(M): 1
Kerala Congress (M): 1
Revolutionary Socialist Party: 1
BJP: 0

Punjab: 13 seats
INC: 8
BJP: 2
SAD: 2
AAP: 1

13:04  Modiji will take us forward: Sarma :  Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP: People of India have once again given Modiji a chance to lead the country, they love him. I would like to thank the people of India, especially people of North-East for supporting Modiji. I want to assure people that Modiji will take us forward. 
13:00  Odisha Assembly trends: BJD leading in 89, BJP in 28, Cong 13:   The ruling Biju Janata Dal is surging ahead with its candidates leading in 89 assembly constituencies, while BJP nominees are leading in 28 segments as per the latest trends available, officials said Thursday. 

Odisha has 147 members assembly. Polling in Patkura assembly segment in Kendrapara district was postponed in view of the death of a candidate and again due to cyclone Fani. 

Congress nominees are leading in 13 assembly constituencies, while a JMM candidate and an independent are also ahead as per trends available for 132 assembly seats. Chief Minister and BJD President Naveen Patnaik is leading in both Bijepur and his home turf Hinjili Assembly constituencies. 

Patnaik is Chief Minister of Odisha continously for the past 19 years and the trends indicate that he is all set to occupy the chair for the fifth successive term.
12:57  Omar Abdullah congratulates PM, Shah:  Omar Abdullah @OmarAbdullah tweets: So the exit polls were correct. All that's left is to congratulate the BJP & NDA for a stellar performance. Credit where credit is due PM Modi Sahib & Mr Amit Shah put together a winning alliance & a very professional campaign. Bring on the next five years.
12:55  Rajnath lauds PM's 'vision', Shah's 'dynamism':  With early trends indicating BJP's return to power, senior leader and Home Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday termed it "historic" and credited it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "astute" leadership and party chief Amit Shah's "dynamism".  BJP+: 342, CONG+ 90 

In a series of tweets, Singh said the people of India have once again given a decisive mandate to the BJP-led NDA and reposed their faith in Modi's leadership and vision of New India. 

"Spoke to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi and the BJP National President Shri @AmitShah over the phone and congratulated them for @BJP4India led NDA's stupendous victory in these Lok Sabha Elections. "This historic victory in the General Elections is the outcome of Modiji's visionary leadership, Amit Shahji's dynamism and the hard work of millions of BJP karyakartas on the ground," he said. The home minister said Modi is now all set to build a New India. Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday.

Singh, who is contesting from the Lucknow seat, himself is leading by over 1.5 lakh votes as per available trends. PTI
12:49  Lanka PM congratulates Modi:  Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe tweets, "Congratulations to #NarendraModi on a magnificent victory! We look forward to working closely with you." )
12:46  YSRC decimates TDP, Chandrababu may quit today:   Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is likely to tender his resignation later today. 

Opposition YSR Congress surged ahead taking early leads in over 108 seats, leaving the ruling TDP far behind at 21 in the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. The Jana Sena, which was expected to mar the prospects of both the ruling and the opposition parties, is ahead in one seat as per the trends made available for 130 of the total 175 seats by the Election Commission as of 10.30 am. 

 TDP supremo and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu initially trailed by 67 votes but bounced back to secure a lead 1,126 votes over his nearest YSRC rival. YSRC chief and Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing assembly Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is leading by 8,580 votes. 

In the Lok Sabha polls, the YSR Congress seems to be on course of making a clean sweep of the Lok Sabha seats with the party leading in all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh. As per the latest election commission data, the YSRC-led by Y S Jaganmohan Reddy is surging ahead in all the constituencies. 
12:36  Rahul Gandhi's decisions led to divisions within the Opposition: CPI:  Decisions taken by Rahul Gandhi led to divisions within the opposition, CPI national secretary Atul Kumar Anjaan said Thursday and asserted that the policies of the Congress scion opened the doors for Narendra Modi's victory. 

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 292 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 50, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls. 

"The BJP fought these elections on the basis of social and religious divisive policies and the agenda was set by them on this basis. 

"But more significant is the fact that the unity of the opposition has been damaged by the Congress. The policies and decisions of Rahul Gandhi has weakened opposition unity, led to divisions and opened the doors for Modi's victory," the Communist Party of India national secretary said. 
12:35  Mufti drops to third position in Anantnag seat:  Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and People's Democratic Party Mehbooba Mufti dropped down to the third position while National Conference's Hasnain Masoodi is leading from the Anantnag seat as of 11:30 am on Thursday.

Indian National Congress' Ghulam Ahmad Mir is in the second spot and is giving a tough fight to the NC candidate in the counting phase.

BJP has taken a lead in Jammu and Udhampur seats while NC's Farooq Abdullah is leading from Srinagar constituency, his fellow party leader is also in the lead from Baramulla seat. 
12:33  BJP closes in on TMC :  Saffron tide in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal and not a peep out from her or the party's spokespersons. Visuals of celebrations outside BJP office in Kolkata. 

TMC: 23, BJP: 18, CONG: 1, LEFT: 0

12:25  Narendra Modi's speech this evening :  With the BJP set to return to power, its parliamentary board is expected to meet Thursday evening at the party headquarters where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make a speech.

Top party leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah and some senior Union ministers besides Modi, are members of the parliamentary board, its highest decision making body. 

The board is likely to pass a resolution to thank voters for their support and also hailing Modi's leadership. The prime minister is also expected to address party workers.
12:20  EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 polling stations:  The counting exercise is on in over 4,000 counting centres amid concerns raised by opposition parties over alleged tampering of EVMs. They have asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting. 

Election Commission officials said results are expected only by late evening.         

The voting was staggered 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.         

For the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC is tallying the 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.         

It will effectively mean that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 such stations.         

In case of a mismatch, the results based on paper slip count will be considered as final.       

Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.
12:14  BJP parl meeting, Modi to meet workers today :  Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 292 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 51, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.  

The BJP Parliamentary board meeting is to be held later today.  The PM will also meet BJP workers at the party office at 5.30 pm today. 

If the trends stay until final results, the BJP would have improved on its 2014 performance when it had won 282 seats on its own in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Adding the seats won by its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could win 343 seats, up from 336 in 2014. 

Markets cheered the trends, as the benchmark BSE Sensex touched 40,000 for the first time and NSE Nifty breached the 12,000 level. The rupee appreciated 14 paise to 69.51 against the US dollar trade.  

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. 

The results are a resounding endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, his government's achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security and nationalism. 

He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country's woes. The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising. Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave has swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status. -- PTI
12:14  BJP parl meeting, Modi to meet workers today :  Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power Thursday as it led in 292 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 51, according to trends released by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.  

The BJP Parliamentary board meeting is to be held later today.  The PM will also meet BJP workers at the party office at 5.30 pm today. 

If the trends stay until final results, the BJP would have improved on its 2014 performance when it had won 282 seats on its own in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Adding the seats won by its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could win 343 seats, up from 336 in 2014. 

Markets cheered the trends, as the benchmark BSE Sensex touched 40,000 for the first time and NSE Nifty breached the 12,000 level. The rupee appreciated 14 paise to 69.51 against the US dollar trade.  

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. 

The results are a resounding endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity, his government's achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security and nationalism. 

He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country's woes. The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising. Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave has swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status. -- PTI
12:05  News updates:  -- BJP Parliamentary board meeting to be held later today. PM Modi to meet BJP workers at party office at 5.30 pm today. 

-- BJP's Jay Panda trailing by over 2000 from Odisha's Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency. Panda had quit the BJD recently. 

-- The YSR Congress seems to be on course of making a clean sweep of the Lok Sabha seats with the party leading in all 25 seats in Andhra Pradesh. 

-- Former Home Minister & Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde trailing from Solapur, NCP's Supriya Sule leading from Baramati.
12:00  Pragya Thakur: I will definitely win:  BJP Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur on trends showing she is leading: Nischit meri vijay hogi, meri vijay mein dharm ki vijay hogi, adharm ka naash hoga. Mein Bhopal ki janta ka aabhaar deti hun. I will definitely win. It's a victory of justice over injustice and I'm grateful to the people of Bhopal. 
11:44  Maneka trails from Sultanpur:  
BJP leader Dr Sambit Patra leading by over 700 votes from Odisha's Puri Lok Sabha Constituency. 

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia trailing from Guna in Madhya Pradesh 

Union Ministers Manoj Sinha and Maneka Gandhi trailing from Ghazipur and Sultanpur respectively.

Punjab: Congress's Manish Tewari leading from Anandpur Sahib, SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal leading from Bhatinda and Aam Aadmi Party's Bhagwant Mann leading from Sangrur. 
11:37  BJP leads in all seven seats :  The BJP is leading the trends in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, with the Congress trailing in five constituencies and the AAP in two seats. Debutant Gautam Gambhir, Union minister Harsh Vardhan and sitting lawmaker Manoj Tiwari of the Bharatiya Janata Party were among early gainers. Congress veteran Sheila Dikshit was on second spot behind Tiwari in North East Delhi while former MP J P Agarwal, pitted against Vardhan in Chandni Chowk constituency, was trailing. 

Agarwal has alleged that strongrooms were opened in "absence" of his counting agents. Sitting BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma was leading against his Congress rival Mahabal Mishra in the West Delhi Lok Sabha seat, they said. 

BJP candidates were also leading in New Delhi, South Delhi and North West Delhi parliamentary constituencies. Cricketer-turned-BJP leader Gambhir was leading in East Delhi against Congress' Arvinder Singh Lovely.

Sitting MP Ramesh Bidhuri was leading against his AAP rival Raghav Chadha in the South Delhi Lok Sabha seat, officials said.

Here are the leads:

Chandni Chowk

BJP: Harsh Vardhan: 56228
INC: Jai Prakash Agarwal: 37502
AAP: Pankaj Kumar Gupta: 16135
Leading: 18726

East Delhi
BJP: Gautam Gambhir: 63034
INC: Arvinder Singh Lovely: 28159
AAP: Atishi: 18193
Leading: 34875

New Delhi
BJP: Meenakashi Lekhi: 71116
INC: Ajay Makan: 38764
AAP: Brijesh Goyal: 20700
Leading: 32352

North East Delhi
BJP: Manoj Tiwari: 116067
INC: Sheila Dixit: 37104
AAP: Dilip Pandey: 27673
Leading: 78963

North West Delhi
BJP: Hans Raj Hans: 116398
INC: Rajesh Lilothia: 29984
AAP: Gugan Singh: 39977
Leading: 76421

South Delhi
BJP: Ramesh Bidhuri: 94752
INC: Vijender: 25426
AAP: Raghav Chadha: 48365
Leading: 46387

West Delhi
BJP: Pravesh Sahib Singh Verma: 121080
INC: Mahabal Mishra: 37712
AAP: Balbir Signh Jakhar: 37134
Leading: 83368
11:28  Saffron sweeps aside bua-bhatija in UP:  With counting of votes underway for Lok Sabha elections, trends show a positive signal for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh with the party leading on 52 seats.

The BSP and SP, which are in alliance, are ahead on 26 seats, while the Congress party is leading in just two seats.

In what could become a major upset for the Congress, party president Rahul Gandhi is trailing by around 3,000 votes in Amethi against BJP's Smriti Irani. 

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is leading from Rae Bareli against Dinesh Pratap Singh of BJP.

In Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is surging with more than 86,519 votes against Congress' Ajay Rai. 

BJP leader and the sitting lawmaker from Mathura, Hema Malini is ahead against Kunwar Narendra Singh of RLD.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is leading from Lucknow, where he is contesting against Shatrughan Singha's wife Poonam Sinha of Samajwadi party. 

Senior BJP leader Rita Bahugna Joshi is leading from Allahabad. 

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is leading from Mainpuri, while his son and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is ahead from Azamgarh.

In Rampur, sitting parliamentarian Azam Khan of Samajwadi Party is surging ahead of BJP's Jaya Prada. 

The poll campaign in Rampur was marred with controversies due to Khan's sexist jibes against Jaya Prada. 

In 2014, the BJP had won 71 out of the 80 constituencies in the state, which is considered as the most politically significant in the country.  -- ANI
11:21  Investor wealth zooms Rs 2.87 lakh cr over Modi cheer :  Investor wealth zoomed Rs 2.87 lakh crore in morning trade Thursday led by a rally in the equity market where the BSE benchmark Sensex hit 40,000-mark for the first time ever.

The 30-share index zoomed over 900 points to hit an intra-day high of 40,012.35. 

During the trade, it hit an all time high of 40,124.96, as early trends suggested a majority for the ruling NDA. 

Following the jump in stocks, the market capitalisation of BSE listed companies rose sharply by Rs 2,87,028.8 crore to Rs 1,53,56,153.14 crore in early trade from Rs 1,50,69,124.34 crore on Wednesday. From the Sensex pack, 25 scrips were trading with gains led by Yes Bank, IndusInd Bank, L&T, SBI, ICICI Bank, Kotak Bank and RIL.
11:20  Arunachal Pradesh: BJP ahead of rivals in both LS seats:   The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is currently taking the lead in the two Lok Sabha constituencies of Arunachal Pradesh, as per the initial trends of the Election Commission. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju is leading by 30548 votes in Arunachal West against his nearest rival Nabam Tuki of the Congress. He had won the seat in 2014, defeating Takam Sanjoy of the Congress by a margin of 41738 votes.
11:16  'BJP would have won over 30 seats if TMC had not resorted to violence' :  BJP leader Roopa Ganguly on Thursday said that BJP would have won more seats in West Bengal had Trinamool Congress not resorted to violence and pressurise the masses in all the seven phases of elections in the state.

"People are tired of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Had the elections been held in a fair manner BJP would have won more than 30 seats here that is what Banerjee was afraid of, hence the violence in all seven phases," Ganguly told ANI here.She asserted that BJP was afraid for the security of people in those constituencies where BJP performed exceptionally but could not secure a win because of TMC's goons.
11:14  IN Bengal, BJP inches close to TMC in leads :  
Bengal leads: TMC: 22, BJP: 18, Cong: 1, Left: 0

Union minister Babul Supriyo and sitting MPs Abhishek Banerjee and greenhorn Mimi Chakrabory were among those taking the lead from their respective constituencies in West Bengal, according to initial EC trends. 

Union minister Babul Supriyo of the BJP is leading by 21379 votes against Moon Moon Sen of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) from Asansol Lok Sabha seat,as per the trends. In Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha seat, sitting MP and AITC candidate Abhishek Banerjee is leading by 3808 votes against Nilanjan Roy of BJP.

BJP candidate Santanu Thakur is leading by 3461 votes against Mamata Thakur of AITC in Bangaon seat, while Khagen Murmu of the BJP is leading by 4699 votes against Mausam Noor of the Trinamool Congress in Maldaha Uttar.

Mala Roy of AITC is ahead of BJP's Chandra Kumar Bose by 11898 votes, the trends suggest. In Kolkata Uttar, Sudip Bandopadhyay of AITC is leading by 5361 votes against BJP's Rahul Sinha. John Barla of the BJP is leading by 1846 votes against Dasrath Tirkey of the AITC in Alipurduar In Jadavpur, Mimi Chakraborty of the AITC is currently leading by 214 votes against Anupam Hazra of BJP. In both Bankura and Howrah seats, BJP candidates are ahead of their nearest TMC rivals. 

While Subhas Sarkar of BJP is leadings by 2687 votes against Subrata Mukherjee of AITC in Bankura, Rantideb Sengupta of BJP is leading by 1150 votes against footballer and Trinamool candidate Prasun Banerjee. In Jangipur, Khalilur Rahman of AITC is leading by 10395 votes against INC candidate Abhijit Mukherjee, son of former President Pranab Mukherjee. 
-- PTI
11:00  Saffron sweep in Mumbai:  The BJP-Shiv Sena combine is leading in all six seats of Mumbai with candidates of the two saffron allies establishing comfortable leads over their Congress and NCP rivals. 

Here are the trends: 

Mumbai North
BJP: Gopal Shetty: 67660
Congress: Urmila Matondkar: 20544
Leading: 47116
Mumbai North East
BJP: Manoj Kotak: 154607
NCP: Sanjay Patil: 102966
Leading: 51641
Mumbai North West
Shiv Sena: Gajanan Kirtikar: 43819
Congress: Sanjay Nirupam: 21826
Leading: 21993
Mumbai North Central
BJP: Poonam Mahajan: 54935
Congress: Priya Dutt: 31754
Leading: 23181
Mumbai South
Shiv Sena: Arvind Sawant: 60866
Congress: Milind Deora: 35312
Leading: 25554

Mumbai South Central
Shiv Sena: Rahul Shewale: 77788
Congress: Eknath Gaikwad: 48116
Leading: 29672

Image: Party flags outside the BJP office in Mumbai. Pic: Harish Harisinghani
10:45  Amit Shah leads by over 1,25,000 votes:  BJP President Amit Shah leading by over 125000 votes from Gujarat's Gandhinagar.
10:44  Sensex zooms past 40K:  Stock markets aiming for the stratosphere, up 900+ points as trends showed a comfortable win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led coalition in the just-concluded general elections.'

The BSE S&P Sensex is at 40,062 while the Nifty 50 gained 286 points to 12,028. At the National Stock Exchange, all sectoral indices were in the positive zone.
10:41  Ek baar phir... :  Early celebrations at the BJP office in Mumbai. 

Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani
10:34  BJP-Shiv Sena leading in all six seats in Mumbai:  BJP-Shiv Sena leading on all six seats of Mumbai.

Independent candidate Sumanlatha Ambareesh (pictured) leading by over 1200 votes from Mandya over Karnataka CM & JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Kumaraswamy.

Rajasthan: Congress leader Manvendra Singh trailing from Barmer, Union Minister Rajvardhan Rathore leading from Jaipur Rural.

Punjab: Congress leading on 8 seats, BJP & SAD leading on 2 seats each and Aam Aadmi Party leading on 1 seat.
10:14  Leads indicate Modi set to win another term:  The Bharatiya Janata Party has taken an early lead as counting of the ballot for the 542 Lok Sabha seats gathered pace across the country began on Thursday. BJP: 326, Cong: 113. If leads hold, Narendra Modi is set to form government for another term. 

PM Narendra Modi leading by over 20,000 votes from UP's Varanasi, BJP President Amit Shah leading by over 50,000 votes from Gujarat's Gandhinagar. Neither of which is surprising.

Union Minister and sitting BJP MP Jayant Sinha is leading by 6,486 votes against his nearest Congress rival Gopal Prasad Sahu from Hazaribagh Lok Sabha seat as per initial trends, officials said.

The BJP is leading in four out of five seats of Uttarakhand while the Congress was leading in one, according to early Election Commission trends Thursday.

The ruling BJP is leading in all four Lok Sabha seats of Himachal Pradesh Thursday, a state election officer said. In Mandi, sitting BJP MP Ram Swaroop is leading by 46,000 votes against his nearest rival Aashray Sharma of Congress.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju is leading by 4490 votes against Khyoda Apik of the National People's Party (NPP) in Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat,
according to initial EC trends. 
09:53  PM, Amit Shah lead :  
PM Narendra Modi leading by over 20,000 votes from UP's Varanasi, BJP President Amit Shah leading by over 50,000 votes from Gujarat's Gandhinagar. Neither of which is surprising.

Karnataka: JD(S) leader Nikhil Kumaraswamy leading from Mandya parliamentary seat; Independent candidate Sumanlatha Ambareesh trailing.

Jammu and Kashmir: Dr.Farooq Abdullah leading from Srinagar, Union Minister Dr.Jitendra Singh leading from Udhampur.

Andhra Pradesh assembly elections trends: YSRCP leading on 35 seats, Telugu Desam Party leading on 6 seats, total 175 constituencies.
09:46  Shatrughan Sinha trails :  BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad leading over Congress's Shatrughan Sinha from Patna Sahib.
09:45  BJP+ crosses 300 in early leads:  The Bharatiya Janata Party has taken an early lead as counting of the ballot for the 542 Lok Sabha seats gathered pace across the country began on Thursday.

The BJP+ was leading in 320 seats while the Indian National Congress+ was placed second in the list with 112 seats according to officials trends of 371 constituencies.

In Uttar Pradesh, BJP is surging on 39 seats, while BSP and SP are ahead on eight and two seats, respectively. 

Congress is leading on one seat out of the total 80, maximum for a state in the country.

BJP is leading in 22 seats and Congress in 2 out of the total 26 seats in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Modi.

Shiv Sena was leading on 13 seats, while Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was ahead on 13, at 9:30 am.

Other parties such as Shiromani Akali Das, Mizo National Front and Jammu and Kashmir National Conference are leading in one seat.According to early trends, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is leading in Kerala's Wayanad constituency by over 5,000 votes.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is also leading from Uttar Pradesh's Raebareli.Congress leader Digvijaya Sigh is trailing behind BJPs Praygya Thakur by over 3,000 votes in Bhopal. 

Besides, Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna and Vivek Tankha from Jabalpur are trailing.In the national capital, BJP's Ramesh Bidhuri is leading from South Delhi and BJP's Parvesh Verma is ahead from West Delhi.

The Lok Sabha polls that commenced on April 11 and wrapped up on May 19, saw approximately 900 million voters exercising their franchise and deciding the fate of 7,928 candidates across 542 seats in the country. Out of those candidates, 724 were women and four were transgenders. -- ANI
09:40  People laughing at Oppn over EVM allegations: Harsh Vardhan:  Union Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday took a jibe at the opposition parties over their allegations on discrepancies in electronic voting machines saying people having less knowledge of technology were laughing at them.

He also said that the country wanted to see Narendra Modi as Prime Minister again.

"People are laughing at them (opposition parties). Even those who have less knowledge of technology are also laughing. All these people, especially the poor, want to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister again," he told ANI.
09:38  In Karnataka, BJP's Tejasvi Surya leading from Bengaluru South and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge trailing from Gulbarga. 
09:33  AIADMK leading in one assembly constituency:  AIADMK was leading in one of the 22 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu Thursday, the Election Commission said. The AIADMK was leading arch rival DMK by a slender margin in Sattur, according to the data made available by the Election Commission. By-polls to the 22 seats, whose outcome will decide the fate of the AIADMK government headed by Chief Minister K Palaniswami, were held in two phases, on April 18 and May 21.
-- PTI
09:32  Sensex up 600 points as BJP leads :  Sensex up by more than 600 points as early trends show a return to power of NDA Government. 

Yesterday, the equity benchmark indices ended the session with minor gains amid volatile trade as investors remained cautious on the eve of general elections outcome.

The BSE S&P Sensex closed 140 points higher at 39,110 while the Nifty 50 was up 29 points at 11,738.Among sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange, FMCG, IT and media were in the red while others showed marginal gains.
09:20  India will shine even brighter, says Anupam Kher :  As counting of votes for 542 Lok Sabha seats went underway on Thursday, veteran actor Anupam Kher exuded confidence that India's future will shine with the results.

"Today, the future of India will shine even brighter on this festival of democracy. Jai Ho," Kher tweeted.

The actor's wife, Kirron Kher, is eyeing a consecutive victory from Chandigarh parliamentary constituency.Anupam Kher held extensive election rallies in Chandigarh while canvassing for his wife, who is pitted against former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress party.

Kirron, the actor-turned-politician, won the Chandigarh seat with a whopping 1,91,362 votes in 2014 general elections against Congress rival Bansal, whom she defeated by nearly 70,000 votes.
09:19  Tharoor leads:  Shashi Tharoor on leading from Thiruvananthapuram: Not getting excited about just 4% of the votes counted, but it's welcome news that I took the lead from the start & am holding on to it!
09:12  Digvijaya, Scindia trail :  Madhya Pradesh: Senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal, Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna and Vivek Tankha from Jabalpur, trailing
09:09  Leads, trails:  BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur leading from Bhopal
BJP candidate Anurag Thakur leading from Hamirpur (HP).
In Gurdaspur, BJP's Sunny Deol leading. He is up against Congress's Sunil Jakhar. 


BJP leading in Gujarat.
DMK leading in Tamil Nadu
TMC leading in West Bengal
Jagan's YSRC leaging in AP
BJP leading in UP
BJP leading in Karnataka
BJP leading in Rajasthan
BJP leading in Madhya Pradesh
08:49  Rahul trailing in postal votes in Amethi:  
Postal votes being counted in Amethi, EVMs still not been opened. 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi is trailing. 

Rahul is contesting from two seats Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala and faces a tough challenge from Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani. 

In Wayanad, though, he may have an easier run.

Since the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance did not field a candidate in Amehti in Uttar Pradesh, it was a direct contest between Rahul Gandhi and Irani. 

The contest is expected to be close since Irani led an aggressive campaign. She has constantly accused the Congress president, who is the constituencys sitting MP, of ignoring Amethi. Gandhi did not visit the constituency even on the day of polling, giving Irani the opportunity to repeat that the missing MP had betrayed residents.

Amethi has been a Congress party stronghold since its formation as a Lok Sabha constituency in 1967 election. 

In Rae Bareli, Sonia Gandhi is leading as well. 
08:44  That's what a counting centre looks like :   Visuals from inside a counting centre in Chandigarh. Congress's Pawan Kumar Bansal, BJP's Kirron Kher and AAP's Harmohan Dhawan are contesting from the Lok Sabha seat.
08:31  Counting begins amid tight security in TN:  Counting of votes for 38 Parliamentary segments and bypolls to 22 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu began amid tight security Thursday. Trends are expected to emerge after about an hour. 

The bypolls and Parliamentary elections are crucial for both the ruling AIADMK and main opposition DMK with the former looking to retain power in Tamil Nadu and the latter eyeing a comeback after consecutive poll setbacks. 

Counting of votes is underway in 45 centres across the state, with over 17,000 polling staff and 45,000 police personnel on duty. 
08:29  Congress leading (postal ballots) in both Amethi and Wayanad.  
08:29  Counting of postal ballots begin :   For the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC will tally 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. 

It will effectively mean that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 such stations. In case of a mismatch, the results based on paper slip count will be considered as final. 

The entire exercise of EVM-paper trail machine matching will take an additional four to five hours, EC officials said. They said the voting percentage of 67.11 this time was the highest ever-voter turnout in Indian parliamentary elections. 

They said according to procedure, postal ballots would be the first to be counted. The number of service voters stands at 18 lakh and these include personnel of the armed forces, central police force personnel and state police personnel who are posted outside their constituencies. Diplomats and support staff posted in Indian embassies abroad are also counted as service voters.

Out of the 18 lakh registered voters, 16.49 lakh have sent their postal ballots to their respective returning officers as on May 17. The exercise of counting postal ballots manually will itself take a couple of hours at least, an EC official said. 

Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power. 
08:29  Counting begins in Gujarat:   Counting of votes for elections to 26 Lok Sabha constituencies and bypolls in four Assembly seats of Gujarat began at 8 am on Thursday at 28 centres, an election official said. Over 8,000 polling staff has been deployed at the counting centres, the official said.

08:27  Will Pragya Thakur win in Madhya Pradesh?:  Counting of votes for the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh got underway at 292 centres in 51 district headquarters on Thursday and the first results are expected by 10 pm, an election official said. 

All eyes will be on the Bhopal Lok Sabha which seat saw a keen contest between Congress veteran Digvijay Singh and Malegaon blast case accused Pragya Singh Thakur.

Around 1,800 CCTV cameras have been installed at the counting centres where internet and wi-fi services will not be available, state Chief Electoral Officer V L Kantha Rao told reporters. 

"The counting of votes began from 8 am. Given the number of candidates and counting rounds, the first result may start coming in by 10 pm," he said.
08:24  Counting of votes for underway at the Siri Fort complex, Delhi.
08:12  Karnataka begins counting votes :  Counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls begins at a counting centre in Mount Carmel College.

Postal ballots are being counted now. Most of these are from the defence forces and the Election Commission officials. 
08:08  Maha: Counting begins, results of 48 seats likely by evening:  Here's what it looks like in Maharashtra.

Counting of votes began for the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra where trends are likely to start coming in by afternoon while the final results are expected in the evening, officials said.

A total of 98,430 electronic voting machines were used for the four-phase polls in the state where counting is taking place at 48 counting centres in 38 locations from 8 am, an election official said. 

"The trends are likely to start coming in by afternoon and results by 4 pm," he said. 

Over a lakh polling staff and around 50,000 police personnel have been deployed in the state, the official said. Maharashtra, which has the second highest number of 48 Lok Sabha seats in the country after Uttar Pradesh's 80, went to polls in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29 and a total of 867 candidates were in the fray. 

The voter turnout this time was 60.80 per cent, up from 60.32 per cent in 2014.
08:03   The BJP has all its winners to come to Delhi by May 25. 
07:58  VVPAT counting may not delay results :  That's a relief! News coming in from NDTV that results will not be delayed because of VVPAT verification as paper trail slips will be counted at the very end. 

Counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections, in which over 8,000 candidates were in the fray for 542 seats, is expected only by late evening due to tallying of voter verified paper audit trail slips with electronic voting machine count for the first time. 

Let's see how that goes. 

Image: A counting centre in Guwahati
07:46  Which way will Wayanad vote?:  Kerala: Visuals from outside a counting centre at Kalpetta, Wayanad; Rahul Gandhi is contesting from this Lok Sabha constituency. 

(Sorry, we couldn't resist the alliterative headline.) 

While you're here, read this report from Wayanad: Challenges that await Rahul in Wayanad

07:42  The numbers in the Lok Sabha elections :  The fate of as many as 8,040 candidates will be decided on Thursday when the counting of votes polled for the 17th Lok Sabha elections is done.

Around 90 crore voters were eligible to vote in this Lok Sabha polls which were held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. 

As many as 13 crore of them were first-time voters.

According to the Election Commission of India data, 67.11 per cent voters exercised their right to franchise. This was the highest turnout in the Lok Sabha polls since independence.

Voting took place at 10.35 lakh polling stations across 36 states and Union Territories. Around a million polling staff was engaged in the smooth conduct of elections.

Ladakh (17,73,266 sq km) was the largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of area, while Chandi Chowk (10 sq km) in Delhi was the smallest.Largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of voters was Malkajgiri (31,83,325 voters) in Andhra Pradesh while the smallest parliamentary constituency was Lakshadweep, which had 43,239 registered voters in 2014.

As many as three lakh paramilitary personnel along with 20 lakh state police personnel were deployed for the seven-phased Lok Sabha polls.

Around 3,000 companies of paramilitary forces from CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, and SSB were deployed in these elections. According to Union Home Ministry, the deployment was the highest ever made in India.

Image:  A counting centre in Kolkata. The placard says, let's go vote and build the nation. 
07:38  Rahul Gandhi will be the PM: Maken :  Ajay Maken, Congress candidate from New Delhi LS seat, contesting against BJP MP Meenakashi Lekhi: The results will be definitely in favour of Congress. We're expecting that Congress will win and form govt. Rahul Gandhi will be the PM. The fight in Delhi is between BJP and Congress.
07:36  Will exit poll results prove right?:   The results of the world's largest democratic exercise -- a seven-phase electoral process -- is expected today, unless VVPAT plays spoiler and delays the results. The counting of votes beginning at 8 am. 

Exit polls predict another NDA wave in the country, mainly in the Hindi heartland, bringing back Prime Minister Narendra Modi back at the helm of affairs. 

However, the southern states -- Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu -- also have strong regional political parties that look at getting elected in their respective states. 

The opposition parties have trashed results of the exit polls, claiming that the BJP will suffer severe drubbing due to rising unemployment, farm distress and slowdown in the economy.

Image: Visuals from outside a counting centre in Jalandhar this morning. 
07:34  Prayers ahead of counting at 8 am :  Actor Ravi Kishan, who is fighting on Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat, offers prayers as  will be announced today; counting of votes for the Lok Sabha Elections begins at 8 am. 
00:28  EC launches app for voters to track results:  
The Election Commission on Wednesday came up with a new IT-based initiative to provide real-time trends and results of the counting of the votes on May 23.

"Trends and results will be available on the ECI website as well as on the Voter Helpline App available on both Android and iOS," said the Election Commission.

The dissemination of information will start from 8 am on the counting day and will be continuously updated, said the commission.

The app boasts of a number of innovative features including an option to bookmark one's favourite candidate from a constituency and track her result exclusively said the commission.

"Users with the help of filters can find out the winning/leading or trailing candidate details, along with the constituency-wise or state-wise results from the app," said the commission.  -- ANI

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