India began counting the votes on Thursday morning in what will perhaps go down as the most polarising general election in the country’s history.
Here are live updates as the counting progresses, based on various television channels and data from the Election Commission of India:
6:10 PM: Congress president concedes defeat in Amethi. TV reports say he has offered to resign as party president.
3:50 PM: Modi critic and former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, fighting on a CPI ticket, losing to the BJP's Giriraj Singh from Begusarai in Bihar.
3:40 PM: Actor Sunny Deol of the BJP is leading in Gurdaspur, Punjab, while singer Hans Raj Hans and cricketer Gautam Gambhir are also ahead in Delhi seats.
3:35 PM: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is leading against former BJP leader and current Congress candidate Shatrughan Sinha in Patna.
3:30 PM: Sensex, Nifty lose the day's gains to end lower. Sensex closes nearly 300 points down.
3:20 PM: PM Modi, himself winning by a big margin from Varanasi, tweets: "Together we will build a strong and inclusive India."
सबका साथ + सबका विकास + सबका विश्वास = विजयी भारत— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2019
Together we grow.
Together we prosper.
Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.
India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat
2:40 PM: Actor Hema Malini of the BJP is leading from Mathura.
2:30 PM: Rahul Gandhi continues to trail in Amethi to the BJP's Smriti Irani, but is leading in Wayanad.
2:10 PM: Sensex loses most of the day's gains. The 30-stock index is now trading around 39,134, down almost 1,000 points from the day's high.
2:00 PM: In West Bengal, the BJP is narrowing the gap with Mamta Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. The BJP is now leading in 18 seats versus the Trinamool's 22. Banerjee, who traded barbs with Modi many a time during the campaign, congratulated the winners and said the party will have to review the verdict.
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— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) May 23, 2019
1:55 PM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his congratulations to Narendra Modi, saying the Indian prime minister will “continue to strengthen” the friendship between the two countries.
1:50 PM: In Maharashtra, the BJP is ahead in 23 seats while its ally Shiv Sena is winning in 18. The state has a total of 48 seats. The Congress and its ally NCP, led by Sharad Pawar, are leading in one and four seats, respectively.
In Maharashtra’s Raigad, the Shiv Sena’s Anant Geete holds a slim lead against the NCP’s TS Dattatray.
1:45 PM: In Haryana, too, the BJP is looking to make a near-clean sweep. The party is leading in nine of the 10 seats, with the Congress ahead in the remaining constituency.
The father-son duo Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Deepender Singh, of the Congress, are trailing in Haryana’s Sonipat and Rohtak, respectively.
1:40 PM: In Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP has now extended its lead in all 25 Lok Sabha seats. In the state assembly, the party is leading in 152 of the total 175 seats. A party spokesperson said Jaganmohan Reddy will take the oath to become Andhra Pradesh’s chief minister on May 30.
1:35 PM: In Punjab, the Akali Dal's Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her husband Sukhbir Singh Badal are maintaining a lead over their rivals for the Bathinda and Firozpur seats.
The BJP itself is ahead in only one seat in Punjab while the Congress is leading in nine seats. The Aam Aadmi Party's Bhagwant Mann is looking to retain the Sangrur seat.
1:30 PM: In Assam, the BJP and its ally AGP are ahead in 11 of the 14 seats while the Congress is drawing a blank.
1:25 PM: In the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is ahead in two seats while the National Conference, led by former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, is winning in three.
1:20 PM: In Odisha, chief minister Naveen Patnaik is set to win a fifth term with his Biju Janata Dal racing towards a majority. The BJD is leading in 12 Lok Sabha seats in the seats while the BJP is ahead in seven.
1:15 PM: The Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan is ahead of the BJP’s Jaya Prada in the Rampur seat in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma has said voters have “once again given Narendra Modi the chance to lead the country”.
1:10 PM: Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has tweeted his congratulations to Narendra Modi.
1:00 PM: The BJP's Sadhvi Pragya Thakur is leading by over 1.18 lakh votes over Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
12:50 PM: In the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is leading in 17 out of 60 state assembly seats. It needs 31 to form the state government. It is also leading in the state's two Lok Sabha seats, one of which is held by union minister Kiren Rijiju.
12:40 PM: Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu is likely to submit his resignation today as the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSRCP is set to sweep the assembly elections. The YSRCP is also leading in most of the state’s Lok Sabha seats.
12:35 PM: Union minister Babul Supriyo is leading from West Bengal’s Asansol.
12:30 PM: Home minister Rajnath Singh has said that he has spoken to Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to offer his congratulations on the NDA’s “stupendous victory”.
I thank the people of India for once again giving a decisive mandate to @BJP4India led NDA and reposing faith in Shri @narendramodi’s astute leadership and his vision of New India. Shri Modi is now all set to build a New India. 3/3— Chowkidar Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) May 23, 2019
12:25 PM: The Congress' Atanasio Monserratte is leading in former Goa chief minister and BJP leader Manohar Parrikar’s assembly seat.
12:20 PM: More than four hours since the counting began, the NDA is leading in 341 seats and the UPA is leading in just 91.
12:15 PM: K Kavitha, the daughter of TRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao is trailing in Nizamabad.
12:10 PM: In Bihar, Chirag Paswan, the son of union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, is leading.
Olympic medalist and union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore is set to retain his seat in Rajasthan.
12:05 PM: Prime minister Modi is set to meet BJP workers later today. The BJP parliamentary party is also meeting in the evening.
Union highways minister Nitin Gadkari of the BJP is leading from Nagpur in Maharashtra.
11:55 AM: In the national capital, Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP is leading in New Delhi while Harsh Vardhan is leading in Chandni Chowk.
Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir is set to make his debut in parliament as he is leading over Atishi Marlena of the Aam Aadmi Party and Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress.
11:50 AM: Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia is still trailing in his family’s bastion of Guna in Madhya Pradesh.
In Tamil Nadu, Karti Chidambaram of the Congress, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, is leading in Sivaganga.
11:45 AM: Dushyant Singh of the BJP is leading in Rajasthan's Jhalawar-Baran constituency.
Dimple Yadav, wife of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, is leading in Uttar Pradesh's Kannauj. Akhilesh Yadav himself is leading from Azamgarh in UP.
While the Mulayam Singh Yadav family in UP seems to be holding on to their bastions, that is not the case with the family of Lalu Prasad Yadav in Bihar, whose daughter Misa Bharti is trailing. The two families are also related by marriage.
Also in Bihar, Union minister and former home secretary RK Singh is leading in Arrah.
11:40 AM: Milind Deora of the Congress, who had received support from none other than Indian’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is trailing in Mumbai. His late father, Murali Deora, was oil minister in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government.
11:35 AM: Meanwhile, party workers have been rushing to the BJP headquarters in Delhi as the party seems to be in a celebratory mood. Security has been increased around the area.
11:30 AM: In Odisha, Pinaki Mishra of the BJD is leading in Puri while Sambit Patra of the BJP is trailing.
Jay Panda of the BJP is now trailing in Kendrapara, Odisha.
11:25 AM: Priyanka Gandhi has reached brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s residence, as per TV reports.
Smriti Irani of the BJP is now trailing Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, but only by a slender margin.
11:20 AM: In Kerala, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress is now leading in Thiruvananthapuram, after trailing initially.
The BJP’s K Alphons, a minister and a former IAS officer, is trailing in Kerala.
11:15 AM: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is drawing a blank in Delhi, with both its star candidates Atishi Marlena and Raghav Chadha trailing. The AAP had won four seats in 2014, all in Punjab. It is now leading in just one seat in Punjab.
Former Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit is trailing in North East Delhi, where she is pitched against actor and BJP leader Manoj Tiwari.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of the RJD is trailing in Vaishali in Bihar.
11:10 AM: The BJP is winning 247 out of the 282 seats it won the last time in 2014.
11:05 AM: The Congress’ defeats in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are even more interesting as the party came to power in these states just six months ago.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlaut’s son is losing. This is quite unprecedented for a sitting chief minister.
11:00 AM: The BJP on its own is now leading in 294 seats,12 more than the party had won the last time around.
This is the first time that a non-Congress government has come back to power with a full majority. Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did head governments in 1998 and then 1999, but those were coalition governments.
10:55 AM: As of now, the Left parties are just winning one seat in Kerala and are drawing a blank everywhere else. Till just five years back, the Left parties used to win 40-50 seats in the Lok Sabha.
10:50 AM: The only large states where the NDA is not winning big or making substantial gains are Punjab, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Not only will such a landslide victory mean a near total decimation for the non-BJP opposition parties, it could also mean that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi could face the heat.
10:45 AM: The SP-BSP alliance is leading in 24 seats in Uttar Pradesh, with the BSP ahead in 15 and the SP in nine.
10:40 AM: Meanwhile, Jagan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party is sweeping in Andhra Pradesh with 23 seats. He may also win the state assembly by a landslide.
The BJP is also leading in five Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, making fresh inroads into the southern state, while the TRS is leading in 11.
10:35 AM: The Congress is getting stronger in UP, which TV analysts say is riding on the back of the high-class Muslim votes. But that is inadvertently hurting the SP-BSP alliance.
10:30 AM: The Sensex crosses the 40,000-mark. Markets are up more than 2%.
10:25 AM: Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the BJP is leading in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul Gandhi is still trailing in Amethi. This will be the biggest shocker in this election, if he does.
The RLD’s Ajit Singh is trailing. This will be another shock defeat, if he loses.
10:20 AM: The Congress is drawing a complete blank in the country’s financial capital Mumbai, where it is trailing in all the six seats now.
In Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi confidante and Congress confidante Jitin Prasada is trailing.
10:15 AM: The BJP is leading in 18 seats in West Bengal, just behind the TMC's 20. This is offsetting the BJP's losses in Uttar Pradesh. This is also a shock for chief minister and TMC leader Mamata Bannerjee. The vote bank of the Left parties seems to have shifted en masse to the BJP.
10:10 AM: Election Commission data show the BJP is leading in 277 seats; it had won 282 seats in 2014. The Congress itself is leading in only 52 seats; it had won 44 in 2014.
10:05 AM: The BJP is leading in 57 seats in Uttar Pradesh, essentially meaning that the SP-BSP combine has not managed to dent its 2014 tally of 73 in the state by much.
10:00 AM: Although the NDA is down some seats from 2014, most of the drop is coming because of the AIADMK losing badly in Tamil Nadu.
In Bihar, the NDA is leading in more than 30 of the 40 seats.
9:55 AM: The NDA is now leading in 328 seats as against 104 for the Congress.
Actor Ravi Kishan, contesting on a BJP ticket, is leading in Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
There is an interesting division in Odisha, with the BJD leading in the state assembly elections while the BJP neck and neck when it comes to the Lok Sabha polls.
9:50 AM: The BJP is now leading in 18 seats across West Bengal.
The NDA is leading in Mizoram and Nagaland as well.
The NDA is leading in three seats in Jammu and Kashmir while the UPA is ahead in two.
9:45 AM: Sonia Gandhi is leading in Rae Bareilly
Cousins Supriya Sule and Ajit Pawar of the NCP are both trailing in Maharashtra.
Home minister Rajnath Singh is leading in Lucknow.
Assasudin Owaisi of the AIMIM is trailing in Hyderabad.
Misa Bharti, daughter of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, is trailing in Bihar.
9:40 AM: The BJP is sweeping across Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The BJP is leading in seven seats in Jharkhand as against two for the Congress
9:35 AM: Former prime minister HD Deve Gowda is trailing in Tumkur. His grandson Nikhil Kumaraswamy is now leading in Mandya.
Jaya Prada of the BJP is leading over Azam Khan in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh.
Mamata Bannerjee’s nephew Abhishek Bannerjee is trailing.
The BJP is leading in Secunderabad in Telangana.
Manish Tiwari of the Congress is leading in Anandpur Sahib.
9:30 AM: The NDA has now crossed the 300-seat mark. The BJP on its own is ahead in 261 seats. It needs only 22 more seats to repeat its performance from 2014.
9:25 AM: The NDA has now crossed the halfway mark of 272 seats. In all likelihood, Narendra Modi will be prime minister again. Modi is now leading in Varanasi; he was earlier trailing.
9:20 AM: The NDA has now crossed the 250-mark in early leads while the UPA has not yet managed to cross the 110-mark yet. At this rate, the NDA is well on its way to cross the 272-seat mark needed for a simple majority and form a government.
9:15 AM: The stock markets seem to be cheering the NDA’s early leads. The Sensex opened nearly 1.1% higher.
9:10 AM: The BJP's Smriti Irani is still leading in Amethi. This could be a shock defeat for Rahul Gandhi, if this trend does hold.
Actor Urmila Matondkar, fighting on a Congress ticket, is leading in Mumbai North.
Varun Gandhi of the BJP, son of union minister Maneka Gandhi, is leading in Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.
9:05 AM: The BJP is making smart gains in West Bengal, as it leads in 10 of the 26 seats in the state, which are reporting leads thus far.
Dinesh Trivedi of the TMC is trailing in Barrackpore in West Bengal.
BJP president Amit Shah is leading in Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Surprisingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trailing in Varanasi, although this is expected to change soon.
9:00 AM: On its own, the BJP is now leading in 205 seats, as compared to 70 for the Congress, thus far.
Kanhaiya Kumar of the CPI is trailing the BJP’s Giriraj Singh in Begusarai in Bihar.
Tamil Nadu is holding out against the NDA, where the DMK is leading in 20 seats, making up just under half the UPA gains of 45, thus far.
8:55 AM: The NDA is now leading in more than 200 seats while the UPA is far behind with less than 90. But the more important thing to note is that the NDA is losing 34 seats while the UPA is gaining 36. Other smaller parties are losing four seats.
Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP is leading in his traditional bastion of Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh.
8:50 AM: The BJP is making smart gains in Karnataka, as of now gaining four seats.
The BJP is leading at Mandya in Karnataka, where Nikhil Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), the grandson of the former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, is trailing.
Jyotiraditya Scindhia of the Congress is leading in his traditional bastion of Guna in Madhya Pradesh.
8:45 AM: Thus far, the exit poll results seem to be holding out. In the electorally important state of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress seems to be hurting the SP-BSP combine, and inadvertently helping the BJP.
The BJP's Smriti Irani is leading in Amethi against Congress president Rahul Gandhi. This will be a massive upset if she wins.
8:40 AM: There is now a yawning gap between the NDA and the UPA in these early leads, with the former now leading in 135, as against the latter’s 58.
As far as postal ballots go, the BJP seems to be making smart gains down south in Kerala, where it is leading in three seats. Even more surprisingly, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is leading in seven. But this could again change, as the EVMs are opened.
Former foreign minister Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh, fighting this time on a Congress ticket in Barmer, Rajasthan, is trailing.
Sadhvi Pragya of the BJP is leading in Bhopal, against the Congress’ former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.
8:35 AM: The Sabarimala controversy seems to be helping the BJP in Kerala, where it is leading over Congress’ Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram.
8:30 AM: The NDA has raced ahead now with 116 leads, but it is losing three seats compared with the 2014 elections. The UPA is ahead in 44 seats and is gaining 8.
As things stand right now, this is a no contest and the NDA is running away with it, but these are just postal ballot counts.
8:25 AM: The NDA has already crossed the 100-seat mark and is now leading in 103 seats.
The BSP seems to be leading in one seat in Uttar Pradesh, but that’s the only lead for the Mahagatbandhan alliance of the party led by Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party so far.
The BJP is leading in Kairana in UP, which is a stronghold of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
The Congress’ UDF combine is leading in five out of eight seats in Kerala, as expected.
8:15 AM: Congress president Rahul Gandhi leading in Wayanad, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress trailing in Thiruvanthapuram, DMK’s Kanimozi leading in Tuticorin.
8:10 AM: TV channels say that the first leads have already begun coming in. In less than 10 minutes of counting, the NDA is leading in 12 seats and the UPA in 4.
However, these are very early trends and will keep changing throughout the day. Also, these early results have to be taken with a pinch of salt, as these are postal ballot counts.
Postal ballots are cast by service personnel, who typically have had a pro-BJP bias in the last few years. Little wonder, then, that the NDA has quickly galloped ahead to 60 leads as compared to just 12 for the UPA.
While the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance will hope that the country gives it another decisive mandate, the opposition Congress party and other regional parties will hope that they can dethrone the government.
Going into counting day, however, the latter possibility—that of a shock defeat for the Modi government—looks rather distant, as nearly all the exit polls have predicted a clear majority for the NDA.
The exit polls predicted that the Bharatiya Janata Party and its other NDA allies retain their traditional strongholds of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The exit polls also showed that the NDA will make significant inroads into states like West Bengal and Odisha, and also get the better of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.
These fresh inroads, most polls predict, will help the NDA offset the losses in Uttar Pradesh, the most important state politically. The NDA is up against a formidable alliance between rivals-turned-allies Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the state.