Vote counting is still underway in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its National Democratic Alliance has yet to secure the 272 seats needed for a parliamentary majority, but the prime minister has declared “a very big win.”

Here’s what to know:

  • What are the results saying?: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to retain power, but early vote counts suggests it won’t be the landslide he hoped for.
  • Who is running?: The main opposition to Modi’s BJP party is the Congress party, which has already won over two dozen constituencies.
  • What’s at stake?: For decades, India has clung doggedly to its democratic convictions, largely due to free elections, an independent judiciary, a thriving media, strong opposition and peaceful transition of power. Some of these credentials have eroded under Modi’s 10-year rule, with the polls seen as a test for the country’s democratic values.

Modi promises ‘new chapter of big decisions’

Modi claims victory for alliance

60% of the seats have been called

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims victory for his alliance, 329 of 543 seats have been decided, according to India’s Election Commission. Counting is expected to continue through the night.

Modi begins address to supporters

WATCH: A look at India’s economy under Modi

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power a decade ago on promises to transform India’s economy, and as he seeks a third term as prime minister, it would be hard to argue he hasn’t made strides.

Read more about the growth of India’s economy — and why some feel left behind.

What is the National Democratic Alliance?

The National Democratic Alliance, an Indian political coalition, is led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. It was founded in 1998 and comprises center-right and right-wing political parties.

The coalition’s first chair was former BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The coalition ruled from 1998 to 2004, but then was out of power until 2014, when Modi was first elected as the prime minister.

BJP’s key allies in the NDA include more than a dozen regional parties, including the Telugu Desam Party, Janta Dal (United), Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Republican Parry of India (Athwale Group) and Shiv Sena.

The NDA could be key to Modi retaining his position. In the past two elections, the BJP has secured an outright majority, but early figures indicate it might need the coalition to reach that threshold.

12 hours in, the tally of seats won so far

More than 12 hours after vote counting started, India’s Election Commission reports that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has won 140 seats while the Congress party has won 55.

272 seats are needed to secure a majority. Preliminary results indicate Modi’s BJP will need to rely on its coalition partners to achieve that.

Modi expected to address supporters soon

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived at Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in New Delhi, where supporters are spilling out into the road.

Who is the Samajwadi Party allied with?

Meet the contenders: Narendra Modi

By The Associated Press

WATCH: Why India’s election was held in phases

By The Associated Press

Millions of Indians are voting in a six-week long national election in a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has championed an assertive brand of Hindu nationalist politics. The voters will cast ballots in the first round of voting across 21 states. Over 970 million voters will elect 543 members for the lower house of Parliament for five years during the staggered elections that will run until June 1. The votes will be counted on June 4. (AP Video by Piyush Nagpal)

Each phase was held on a single day, with voting in several constituencies across multiple states. The staggered polling allowed the government to deploy tens of thousands of troops to prevent violence and transport election officials and voting machines.

How some Bollywood films have promoted nationalism

Modi says election is ‘historical feat’

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

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

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

WATCH: Lucknow resident highlights economic struggles

For Payal, a resident of the northern city of Lucknow who uses only one name, the election was about the economy and India’s vast number of people living in poverty. “People are suffering, there are no jobs, people are in such a state that their kids are compelled to make and sell tea on the roadside,” Payal said. “This is a big deal for us. If we don’t wake up now, when will we?”

PHOTOS: Parties across India celebrate election results

By The Associated Press

Across India, supporters of various political parties have been celebrating results as they trickle in with colored powder, fireworks, drums and more.

How Hindu nationalism became mainstream during Modi’s reign

Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology in India, is now mainstream. Nobody has done more to advance this cause than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of India’s most beloved and polarizing political leaders.

Hindu nationalism, once a fringe ideology in India, is now mainstream. Nobody has done more to advance this cause than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of India’s most beloved and polarizing political leaders.

And no entity has had more influence on his political philosophy and ambitions than a paramilitary, right-wing group founded nearly a century ago and known as the RSS.

▶ Read more about how Hindu nationalism has become mainstream over the past decade.

Who is Arvind Kejriwal and why is he in jail?

By The Associated Press

As votes are being counted, Arvind Kejriwal, 55, is likely keeping track — from jail.

One of India’s most consequential opposition leaders, Kejriwal was arrested in March over alleged corruption charges, and let out on bail in May for a few weeks. He campaigned heavily during this time in his stronghold of New Delhi, India’s capital, as well as a few other cities before heading back to jail.

Kejriwal stormed into Indian politics in 2012 as he launched the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party, or Common People’s Party.

Since then, he has emerged as a fierce Modi rival, especially in New Delhi and Punjab state, where his party is in power.

His arrest and the ensuing saga dominated headlines, as he and his party accused Modi’s government of engineering his arrest to keep him out of the race. The government has denied this.

Kejriwal’s AAP is part of a broad alliance of opposition parties called INDIA, the main challenger to Modi’s BJP in this election.

Rahul Gandhi says results so far are a message to Modi

Rahul Gandhi, the face of the Congress party’s campaign and would-be prime minister, said the preliminary results showed India does not want Narendra Modi.

“People’s clear message to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah is that we don’t want you to run the nation,” Gandhi said at a Congress party press conference around 10 hours into the vote count. “The poorest of this country have defended the constitution of India.”

Flanked by Congress leaders, including mother Sonia Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty scion brandished a copy of the constitution.

Despite a stronger-than-expected showing from Congress’ INDIA alliance thus far, Modi is still expected to secure a third term as prime minister.

Nearly 20% of seats have been called

The counting is ticking along more than 10 hours after it began, and results have now been called for 103 parliamentary seats out of a total of 543.

Modi’s National Democratic Alliance had won 67 seats, with 62 of them going to his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, according to India’s Election Commission. The opposing INDIA coalition had bagged 31 seats, with the main Congress party winning 27 of them. The remaining five seats went to other regional parties.

Congress party calls strong showing a ‘win for democracy’

WATCH: BJP supporters celebrate in Srinagar

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate in Srinagar as vote counting is underway in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha election. AP video: Dar Yasin

10 hours into counting, here’s what partial tallies say

Some 10 hours into counting, partial tallies reported by India’s Election Commission showed Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was ahead in 196 constituencies and had won 45, including one uncontested, of 543 parliamentary seats. The main opposition Congress party led in 83 constituencies and had won 15.

A total of 272 seats are needed for a majority. In 2019, the BJP won 303 seats, while they secured 282 in 2014 when Modi first came to power.

Modi’s party is part of the National Democratic Alliance, whose members led in 236 constituencies and won 50, according to the partial count. The Congress party is part of the INDIA alliance, which led in 211 constituencies and had won 19.

The Election Commission does not release data on the percentage of votes tallied.

How often does India hold elections?

By The Associated Press

FILE - Jawaharlal Nehru salutes the flag as he becomes independent India's first prime minister on Aug. 15, 1947 during the Independence Day ceremony at Red Fort, New Delhi, India. “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," Nehru famously spoke, words that were heard over live radio by millions of Indians. Then he promised: “To the nations and peoples of the world, we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.” (AP Photo/File)

Jawaharlal Nehru salutes the flag as he becomes independent India’s first prime minister on Aug. 15, 1947 during the Independence Day ceremony at Red Fort, New Delhi. (AP Photo/File)

Flower petals are thrown to welcome the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a waistcoat, as he arrives with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Bishwa Sarma, to his right, to address a public rally in Guwahati, India, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Flower petals are thrown to welcome the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a waistcoat, as he arrives with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Bishwa Sarma, to his right, to address a public rally in Guwahati, India, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

India’s general elections are held every five years. There are no specified term limits for lawmakers and thus no limit on how many years a prime minister can serve. Narendra Modi has already been in power for a decade. Should he win a third term and finish it out, he’ll near the record of the longest-serving prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

What kind of electoral system does India have?

India employs a first-past-the-post multiparty electoral system. That means for individual contests, whoever receives the most votes wins. To win a parliamentary majority — and thus the premiership — a party or a coalition of parties must secure at least 272 seats (543 seats are up for a vote). India’s electoral system is similar to the U.K.’s.

WATCH: Congress supporters in Mumbai

Congress party supporters celebrate in Mumbai as vote counting is underway in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha election. (AP video: Rafiq Maqbool)

What constituency does Modi represent?

By The Associated Press

Modi wins his own seat in Varanasi

Campaign marked by Modi’s incendiary rhetoric against Muslims

In campaign rallies, Narendra Modi has called Muslims “infiltrators” and said they “have too many children,” referring to a Hindu nationalist trope that Muslims produce more children with the aim of outnumbering Hindus in India. He has also accused the rival Indian National Congress party of scheming to “loot” wealth from the country’s Hindus and redistribute it among Muslims, who comprise 14% of India’s more than 1.4 billion people.

Modi had kicked off his campaign with a focus on economic progress, promising he would make India a developed nation by 2047. But he and the ruling BJP doubled down heavily on their Hindu nationalism platform, with Modi employing some of his most divisive rhetoric in his decade in power.

The Congress party filed a complaint with the Election Commission of India, alleging Modi broke rules that bar candidates from engaging in any activity that aggravates religious tensions.

Analysts say the change in tone came as the BJP targeted a supermajority by consolidating votes among the majority Hindu population — a number that now seems out of reach. They say Modi’s party also ratcheted up polarizing speeches to distract voters from larger issues, like unemployment and economic distress, that the opposition has focused on.

BJP loses seat in Ayodhya, home to Ram temple


Narendra Modi’s BJP have lost their seat in Ayodhya, a deeply symbolic loss for the party after the prime minister opened a grand but controversial Hindu temple there in January.

The BJP candidate, Lallu Singh, lost to a candidate put up by the regional Samajwadi Party, Singh’s poll agent Kamlesh Srivastava told The Associated Press. Singh had held the seat since 2014.

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

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

WATCH: Scenes outside the BJP’s headquarters in New Delhi

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate in Delhi as vote counting is underway in India’s 2024 Lok Sabha election. (AP video: Manish Swarup)

Outside the BJP party office, a Modi-branded water bottle

PHOTOS: One village’s polling officers? All women

The seats won so far

The vote counting is still carrying on, but results have been called for 28 parliamentary seats out of 542 so far.

Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has won 19 seats, according to India’s Election Commission, while its main opposition Congress party bagged 4 seats. The rest went to different regional parties.

Vote tallying is expected to take all day, but the count so far shows Modi’s party leading in 225 constituencies with the Congress ahead in 93.

Why India’s election matters to the world

By The Associated Press

Why there won’t be celebrations in Modi’s home state

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

A massive fire broke out last month at an amusement park in the state’s Rajkot city. Those killed included children.

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

Meet the contenders: Rahul Gandhi

By The Associated Press

The 53-year-old is the scion of modern India’s most powerful political dynasty. He is the great-grandson of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. His grandmother and father also held the top job and were each assassinated.

He is the star face for the opposition Congress party, which governed India for nearly 55 years after the country gained independence from the British in 1947. This time, he and his Congress party are leading the main opposition alliance, called INDIA, against Narendra Modi’s BJP.

While his family connections have helped retain some loyal voters, they have also worked against him — especially in the past two elections, where he suffered huge losses against Modi, who refers to Gandhi as an out-of-touch elite, coasting on his surname.

On the campaign trail, Gandhi has called Modi a dictator ruining India’s democracy. He has attacked Modi and the BJP over recent anti-Muslim rhetoric. And his party is hoping to benefit from economic distress, including high unemployment.

Modi may need a coalition to keep his job

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

Modi’s party is still expected to form the government and return as the prime minister for a rare third consecutive term as his National Democratic Alliance was leading in about 290 constituencies — ahead of the 272 seats needed for a majority. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party alone was leading in 242 seats.

A coalition would, however, diminish Modi’s power as a strongman leader who won his party landslide victories in 2014 and 2019 elections.

In such a scenario, his BJP would likely “be heavily dependent on the goodwill of its allies, which makes them critical players who we can expect will extract their pound of flesh, both in terms of policymaking as well as government formation,” said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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

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

WATCH: BJP supporters in Assam

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters celebrate in Guwahati as party seeks majority for third term in Assam. (AP video: Anupam Nath)

Climate change’s role in the election

Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdul Rashid wins seat from jail

Indian policemen detain Jammu and Kashmir state's lawmaker, Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh, after he was stopped from offering prayers at the Grand Mosque in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. Sheikh was detained after he and his supporters tried offering Friday prayers at the mosque. Indian government has banned people from offering prayers inside the mosque on Fridays for the past several weeks. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Indian policemen detain Jammu and Kashmir state’s lawmaker, Engineer Abdul Rashid Sheikh, after he was stopped from offering prayers at the Grand Mosque in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir in 2016 (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah, attends a campaign as part of India's national elections in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Thursday, April 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

Jammu & Kashmir National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah, attends a campaign as part of India’s national elections in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, in April (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

A politician from disputed Kashmir who has been in New Delhi’s Tihar jail since 2019 in a terror funding case has won a Lok Sabha seat.

Sheikh Abdul Rashid won from northern Baramulla constituency as an independent candidate, beating the region’s former chief minister, Omar Abdullah. Rashid’s campaign was run by his two sons, who hoped a win would lead to his release from prison.

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

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which is divided between the neighbors but claimed by both in its entirety. Modi’s government revoked Indian-controlled Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status during a 2019 security clampdown.

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

WATCH: Vote counting underway in Indian-administrated Kashmir

Vote counting was underway in Indian-administrated Kashmir on Tuesday. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party showed a comfortable lead on Tuesday in India’s election, according to early figures reported by the country’s election commission. (AP video shot by Mahesh Kumar, Manish Swarup, Bika Das and Meraj Ud Din)

Indian markets close sharply down

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

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

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

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

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

For the first time, some could vote from home

Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, shows surprising early leads for the opposition

As the BJP’s strength has grown, Muslims’ political power has waned

As India’s Muslim population has grown, legislative representation has not followed at the same pace.

In the mid-1980s, Muslims accounted for 11% of India’s population, and had 9% of seats in Parliament; today they are 14% of the population and have less than 5% of seats in Parliament.

When Modi assumed power in 2014, the outgoing Parliament had 30 Muslim lawmakers — and just one was a member of the BJP. Muslims before these general elections held 25 out of 543 seats, and none belong to the ruling party.

The political representation of Muslims at the state level is only slightly better. Muslim lawmakers hold roughly 6% of state legislature seats. None of the states has a Muslim chief minister.

India’s opposition parties have become increasingly reluctant to nominate Muslim candidates for fear of alienating Hindu voters, experts say. And while Hindus overwhelmingly rally around the BJP, Muslims have struggled to form a cohesive political agenda, in part because of how diverse the community is across sects, ethnicity, language, customs, and culture.

How many people voted in the Indian election?

Some 642 million people voted in the election, with an average 66% turnout across the seven phases, according to official data. India has close to 970 million eligible voters.

A strong opposition ‘augurs very well for India’s democracy,’ analyst says

India’s opposition alliance is performing better than expected after it pushed back against Modi’s mixed economic record and polarizing politics during a grueling six-week long election.

Early leads reported by the Election Commission showed the opposition INDIA alliance leading in 232 constituencies. Congress party, which heads the alliance, was leading in 99 constituencies. Modi’s BJP is part of the National Democratic Alliance, whose parties led in 283 constituencies — ahead of the 272-majority mark.

The BJP was short of a majority on its own, with 238 seats. In 2019, it won 303 seats.

Political analyst Rasheed Kidwai said the Congress party’s relative success, according to preliminary figures, is largely due to a spirited campaign that focused on rising unemployment and other bread-and-butter issues.

“Congress party and other opposition parties have showed tremendous resilience. To have a stronger opposition augurs very well for India’s democracy that has taken a hit during Modi’s 10-year rule,” Kidwai said.

WATCH: DMK supporters celebrate in Chennai

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party supporters cheer as they follow proceedings of the vote counting at their party office in Chennai, India.

A look at misinformation in the Indian elections

In a year crowded with big elections, the sprawling vote in India has stood out. The world’s most populous country boasts dozens of languages, the greatest number of WhatsApp users as well as the largest number of YouTube subscribers.

Researchers who track misinformation and hate speech in India say tech companies’ poor enforcement of their own policies created perfect conditions for harmful content with the power to distort public opinion, spur violence and leave millions of voters wondering what to believe.

Tech companies like Google and Meta, the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, say they are working to combat deceptive or hateful content while helping voters find reliable sources. But researchers who have long tracked disinformation in India say their promises ring hollow after years of failed enforcement and “cookie-cutter” approaches that fail to account for India’s linguistic, religious, geographic and cultural diversity.

▶ Read more about election misinformation and the false claims circulated.

PHOTOS: How the election commission ensured voting access — sometimes on horseback

By The Associated Press

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