Results of high-stakes Lok Sabha polls today
NEW DELHI, May 22: The counting of votes for the seven-phase elections to India's lower house of parliament, the world's biggest democratic exercise, will take place on Thursday, bringing the curtains down on a bitterly-fought contest which the country rarely witnessed.
Most of the exit polls have predicted that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is on course to retain power for a second term, riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma like the way he swept to power in 2014.
However, 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.
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.
In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 282 seats while the Congress had suffered a severe drubbing getting an all-time low of 44 seats as against 206 it won in 2009.
From 'chowkidar chor hai' and 'bhrashtachari no. 1' to 'khaki underwear', acerbic remarks ruled the roost this election season, making it one of the most bitterly-contested parliamentary polls post Independence.
Election Commission officials said the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections will begin at 8.00 am Thursday and results are expected only by late evening. -PTI