India’s marathon polls come to an end

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iol pic wld DEL13_INDIA-ELECTION_0512_11 REUTERS A voter holds his vote paper as he waits to cast his vote at a polling station in the final phase of the general election in Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Picture: Ahmad Masood

Varanasi, India -

Polls closed on Monday after the final phase of voting in India's marathon general election which is expected to bring Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to power.

Voting took place in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal on the last day of the world's biggest election which began five weeks ago on April 7.

Modi, a charismatic but divisive hardliner, was hoping to win the seat of Varanasi in one of the last contests of the election, the results of which are due to be announced on Friday.

His right-wing BJP is widely expected to win the most seats and end the centre-left Congress party's 10 years in power, although it is unlikely to secure an outright majority in the 543-seat parliament.

Exit polls due to be announced later Monday should indicate whether the BJP will be able to govern in a coalition with existing parliamentary allies or will have to seek new partners.

The exact turnout among the 814 million eligible voters has yet to be announced but is expected to shatter the previous record, as 100 million more voters have been added to the electorate compared to the previous contest five years ago.- Sapa-AFP

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