The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday appeared set toretain power as its candidates led in most of the 542 Lok Sabha constituencieswhere millions of votes were being counted.
Initial trends from 187 seats indicated that the BJP wasleading on 101 seats and the Congress on 40 seats.
Good news for the BJP came even from Uttar Pradesh, where itwas expected to meet a stiff challenge from the SP-BSP alliance, officialssaid.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi was trailing to BJP's SmritiIrani in Amethi although he was leading in Wayanad in Kerala.
Officials on Thursday morning began counting the millions ofvotes cast in the Lok Sabha elections across the country whose verdict willdetermine who gets to rule India for the next five years.
Thousands of Election Commission officials began the mammothexercise in thousands of centres in states and Union Territories amid tightsecurity.
Around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million votersexercised their franchise in the seven-phase elections that began on April 11and ended on May 19.
Exit polls have predicted that Prime Minister NarendraModi's BJP is most likely to return to power.
The counting began at 8 a.m. as scheduled, with officialsfirst taking up the postal ballots.
A total number of 8,049 candidates were in the race for 542Lok Sabha seats. Election in Vellore in Tamil Nadu was countermanded by theElection Commission.