India Election results 2019: Narendra Modi takes Commanding Lead
Many see the election as a referendum on Modi who won a landslide in 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party has taken a decisive lead as votes are counted after the country’s marathon general election.
The alliance led by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is ahead in well over 300 seats and Mr Modi is on course to keep his commanding majority.
India’s stock markets surged to record highs on early results.
Modi was up against a resurgent main opposition Congress party and powerful regional rivals across the country.
Counting began at 08:00 local time (02:30 GMT) after six bitterly fought weeks of voting ended on Sunday.
This election is seen as a referendum on Modi, a polarising figure adored by many but also blamed for increasing divisions in India.
Supporters of the Hindu nationalist BJP have begun celebrating what they see as a decisive win. But Modi is only expected to arrive at the party HQ in Delhi later on Thursday.
The fate of more than 8,000 candidates and some 670 political parties hangs on the ballot.
Results are being released in phases by the Election Commission but a final result may not be known for several hours, or longer.
Extra checks matching printed ballots against electronic voting machine results could delay the process.