Shortly after the last polls closed across India Monday concluding the longest and biggest democratic election ever held, India’s six largest national polling outfits all released preliminary exit polls pointing to a huge win for India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
All the polls predict that the opposition alliance, of which the BJP is the largest party, will win a solid, perhaps even historic, landslide victory, taking anywhere from 257 to 340 of India’s 543-seat Lok Sabha, or parliament. If the BJP actually does win more than 270 seats, it will mark the first time in more than 30 years that one party alone has been able to win an outright parliamentary majority.
Meanwhile, India’s ruling Congress party, which long feared the worst, need fear no longer. The same exit polls also consistently predict a massive, again perhaps historic, loss for Congress. India’s News 24 exit poll predicts the long dominant Congress Party will be well nigh wiped out, winning only 57 seats.
India’s exit polls have been known to be inaccurate in the recent past, which is one of the reasons India’s powerful state election commission bans the release of any details from them at any point during India’s massive, five-week, nine-phase election period. Violating laws against reporting exit polls before elections have been closed is a serious offense in India, punishable by large fines and long prison sentences.
India’s long national elections officially ended with Monday night’s final closing of the India’s last polling place. India’s election, in which turnout swelled to nearly 70% of the country’s more than 800 million eligible voters, is also certainly a record. The ninth and final phase of voting took place across the country Monday in 41 constituencies. The mega-election was conducted at nearly one million separate polling places and in more than 200,000 localities, ranging from the tiniest and most remote hamlets to some of the world’s largest and teeming cities. Nearly 600 million Indians from across the burgeoning subcontinent cast ballots.
While the Indian establishment and its powerful supporters in the liberal western media are warning of a “dramatic” and “hard right shift” with the ascension to power of Narendra Modi’s conservative and Hindu nationalist BJP, India’s stock market greeted the news by shooting to a new all-time record high. Modi is an unapologetic promoter of free markets. As the extremely popular and hugely successful governor of Gujarat state, Narendra Modi has spent his three terms in power transforming Gujarat into India’s “free market capital” and its top destination for foreign investment.
Of all things, India’s media establishment and some of its leading papers fret that despite all its growth under Modi, India’s likely next Prime Minister is roundly criticized for not devoting billions of dollars to help Gujarat develop a “high-speed rail” system. If Monday’s election predictions hold up when official results are announced Friday, India’s media elites will need to keep traveling to Europe or China to ride their beloved taxpayer-funded high-speed trains.