NEW DELHI — Voting has ended in India’s mammoth election with exit polls projecting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies will win a big majority in Parliament.

Voters cast ballots on Saturday for 57 Parliamentary constituencies in the seventh phase of the polls that stretched over six weeks in the searing summer heat.

All eyes are now on Tuesday, when votes will be counted for all 543 elected seats in the lower house of Parliament. As India uses electronic voting machines, results are expected the same day.

The elections will test the popularity of 73-year-old Modi whose image of a strong leader and champion of Hindu nationalism has been boosted by a host of welfare measures for tens of millions of poor people during his decade in power.

The BJP campaign was dominated by the Indian leader, who crisscrossed the country to hold over 200 rallies.

Before elections got under way, the BJP was expected to cruise to an easy victory. The party had set a target of winning a supermajority by bagging 400 seats.

According to exit polls broadcast by several television channels, the party along with its allies could win 350 seats or more, far ahead of the 272 needed for a simple majority. That would hand Modi a rare, third straight term in office.

“It’s a litmus test for Mr. Modi. When elections started, it appeared to be a one-horse race. He appeared very invincible, very formidable and raised the bar very high,” according to political analyst Rasheed Kidwai.

Many observers had expected an opposition alliance of over two dozen parties that is challenging Modi of cutting into his party’s huge Parliamentary majority but exit polls projected that it would not be able to do so and showed the alliance trailing with around 150 seats. However, in the vast, diverse country, exit polls have not always been reliable.

“The final numbers will depend on whether the BJP can hold ground in populous northern states where the party has secured huge success in the past,” analyst Kidwai said.

After polls closed on Saturday, Modi thanked voters and expressed confidence that the “people of India have voted in record numbers” to reelect the government.

His comments came after he ended two days of meditation at the southernmost tip of India at a memorial for Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda — images released by his party showed him clad in saffron robes with eyes closed and prayer beads in hand.

The opposition’s hopes of making gains rest on tapping into growing resentment over high unemployment that faces the country’s huge youth population and rising prices.

Congress Party leader, Rahul Gandhi, who was the face of the opposition campaign, focused his campaign on the need to create jobs and growing wealth inequality in the country and said the government’s policies have favored the rich at the expense of the poor.  The party has promised cash transfers to poor women and a guarantee of apprenticeships for college graduates. It has also raised concerns about democratic backsliding under Modi.

The Congress Party has been marginalized over the last decade amid the BJP’s rise into a formidable political force under Modi – it only holds 52 seats in Parliament.

“Much will depend on how the Congress Party and its allies perform in swing states like Maharashtra in the west, Bihar in the east and Karnataka in the south,” according to Kidwai.

The opposition faces a daunting task. To make significant gains it would also have to fare well in populous northern states, where the BJP is well entrenched and where its Hindu nationalist agenda resonates the most.  The BJP, on its part, hopes to expand its influence in some southern states where it has virtually no presence.

The election campaign has been called one of India’s most divisive.  At rallies, Modi charged the Congress Party of being pro-Muslim and of planning to hand benefits reserved for lower caste Hindus to Muslims if it is voted into power – analysts said the polarizing rhetoric was a bid to shore up support among his Hindu base after voting got off to a lackluster start last month.

In a letter on Thursday addressed to voters in Punjab, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused Modi of indulging in the “most vicious form of hate speeches that are purely divisive in nature” during the campaign and accused him lowering the dignity of the Prime Minister’s office.

Punjab was among the seven states and one federal territory that voted on Saturday.

Only India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, secured a third straight term in office. The winning party is expected to form the next government by mid-June before the term of the present Parliament ends.

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