The Indian Election Commission on Friday began counting nearly 550 million votes cast in one of the most keenly watched parliamentary polls.


The polls are widely expected to unseat the ruling Congress Party and usher in the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power.

Around 66 per cent of the 814 million electorates voted between April 7 and May 12 across the country to pick a new 543-member lower house of the Indian Parliament.

Exit polls have predicted a win for the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that could result in the formation of a government, with a strong mandate to push through reforms.

A total of 8,251 candidates, including 668 women and five transgenders, contested the elections this year.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi are leading in early trends accessed from the Indian Election Commission website.

The counting exercise being held at 989 counting centres is likely to be completed by 11:30 GMT and the initial trends will be available by 5:30 GMT.