Modi Set for Landslide Election Win in India, Exit Polls Show

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party is set to win a decisive majority in India’s election for the third time in a row, several exit polls showed, extending his decade in power atop the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The polls showed his Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance will win substantially more seats than the 272 needed for a majority in India’s 543-seat lower house of parliament. Official election results will be released June 4.

Modi claimed victory for the BJP-led alliance based on the exit poll results, saying the ruling party’s track record resonated with voters, especially the poor.

“I can say with confidence that the people of India have voted in record numbers to reelect the NDA government,” he said in a post on social media platform X. He also criticized the opposition alliance’s campaign for failing to provide a vision for the country.

The results are likely to boost Indian financial markets, which had been volatile in recent weeks amid speculation the BJP and its allies would fail to meet Modi’s ambitious goal of winning 400 seats. In 2019, the BJP won 303 seats on its own and about 351 with its allies.

Read more: India’s Popular, Polarizing Leader Eyes a Thousand-Year Legacy

V K Vijayakumar, chief investment strategist at Geojit Financial Services, predicted a market rally on Monday, saying the exit polls removes some of the election jitters that had been weighing on sentiment in May.

Read more: Modi Is Preparing for a Thousand-Year Legacy

“This comes as a shot in the arm for the bulls who will trigger a big rally in the market on Monday,” he said. Investors will likely also be buoyed by data Friday showing the economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace of 8.2% in the fiscal year ended in March.

While exit polls have a mixed track record in Indian elections, they correctly predicted the broad outlines of the result from the 2019 and 2014 general elections.

The polls were released after the last of India’s nearly 1 billion registered voters finished casting their ballots in a grueling six-week-long election that was spread over seven voting phases. It started on April 19.

The BJP’s strategy of centering its campaign around the hugely-popular Modi appears to have paid off if the exit polls are accurate. The party’s star campaigner, Modi criss-crossed the country holding roadshows and addressing large crowds. The party even titled its manifesto ‘Modi’s Guarantee.’

A win for Modi would be historic: no prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru — who ruled India for 17 years after independence — has managed to secure three consecutive terms in power.

WATCH: How India's Leader Is Preparing for a 1,000-Year Legacy

The exit polls showed the BJP made gains in southern India, where Modi campaigned heavily to woo voters traditionally skeptical of the ruling party’s Hindu nationalist policies. The polls also showed the BJP retained much of its monopoly in the northern Hindi-speaking states.

The win also signals additional trouble for the country’s opposition, especially the Indian National Congress, the largest party in the opposition alliance. Failure to dent the BJP’s mandate for a third straight national election may fuel concerns the Congress party needs an ideological revamp or a change in leadership.

Shashi Tharoor, a Congress official, called the exit polls “deeply unscientific” and said the party would wait for official results on Tuesday.

A bigger win for the ruling party positions it to potentially push through decisive new policy measures and further elevate Modi’s global stature. The BJP pledged in its election manifesto to invest more in infrastructure, boost manufacturing and continue its popular welfare programs.

If the BJP-led alliance wins two-thirds of the seats, or 363, in the lower house of parliament — as some of the exit polls predicted — it also brings the party a step closer to making changes to the constitution. Most amendments would require two-thirds majority in both the upper and lower house of parliament. The BJP-led alliance currently holds about 50% of the seats in the upper house.

Opposition parties on the campaign trail had warned voters the BJP government would use its super-majority to dilute affirmative action policies for lower-caste individuals. BJP officials have repeatedly denied the claims.

What Bloomberg Economics Says

A sweeping win for the BJP, as the exit polls are predicting, would mean a sharp rally in financial markets across asset classes. However, we see a risk this result might embolden the BJP to try to alter India’s Constitution, diluting the government’s focus on its economic agenda.

Abhishek Gupta, senior India economist

For the full report, click here

India’s economy grew more than 8% in the fiscal year that ended in March, making it the fastest-expanding major nation in the world. The central bank is predicting 7% growth in the current financial year, far outpacing global expansion of about 3% in 2024. S&P Global Ratings this week signaled a possible credit rating upgrade for India, giving a boost to financial markets just ahead of the country’s inclusion in JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s emerging market bond index later in June.

“If the results come in line with exit polls, it should be highly positive for markets as it would suggest policy continuity and sustained focus on macroeconomic stability, reforms, infrastructure creation and fiscal prudence,” said Garima Kapoor, an economist at Elara Securities India Ltd.

--With assistance from Ruchi Bhatia, Preeti Soni, Anup Roy and Sudhi Ranjan Sen.

(Updates with additional details.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.