NEW DELHI, May 23: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday appeared set to retain power as its candidates led in most of the 542 Lok Sabha constituencies where millions of votes were being counted.
Initial trends from 187 seats indicated that the BJP was leading on 101 seats and the Congress on 40 seats.
Good news for the BJP came even from Uttar Pradesh, where it was expected to meet a stiff challenge from the SP-BSP alliance, officials said.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi was trailing to BJP's Smriti Irani in Amethi although he was leading in Wayanad in Kerala.
Officials on Thursday morning began counting the millions of votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections across the country whose verdict will determine who gets to rule India for the next five years.
Thousands of Election Commission officials began the mammoth exercise in thousands of centres in states and Union Territories amid tight security.
Around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million voters exercised their franchise in the seven-phase elections that began on April 11 and ended on May 19.
Exit polls have predicted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP is most likely to return to power.
The counting began at 8 a.m. as scheduled, with officials first taking up the postal ballots.
A total number of 8,049 candidates were in the race for 542 Lok Sabha seats. Election in Vellore in Tamil Nadu was countermanded by the Election Commission. - IANS