Voting Is Ending in India. Here’s What’s to Expect.


After 39 days of polling involving as many as 900 million voters, balloting in India’s vast parliamentary election is coming to a close on Sunday, starting a countdown to the announcement of final results on Thursday.

After sweeping to an outright majority during the last elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., are widely expected to lose seats this time.

Deepening concerns about the economy, and about accusations that the B.J.P.’s Hindu-first conservative creed is putting Muslims and other minorities at risk, have led many Indians who voted for Mr. Modi’s party last time to say they might switch. The biggest beneficiary of such a shift would be the Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi.

But Mr. Modi’s popularity remains vast, particularly among India’s Hindu majority, and many Indians credit him with programs that have helped the poor and cut through red tape and corruption.

No one is counting out the B.J.P. just yet. And some analysts believe it is still possible that the party will win another majority, or at least be within striking distance of a coalition that would put Mr. Modi back in the prime minister’s office.

[Read news and opinion coverage of India’s elections by The New York Times.]

Here’s a look at how the world’s biggest election unfolded and what to expect in the next few days.

It’s very possible that the B.J.P. will not win 272 or more out of 543 parliamentary seats being voted on this year. If that happens, it will come down to deal-making to form a coalition.

“Every leader of a major regional front knows that he or she might be able to provide the seats that will put the party over the top,” said Milan Vaishnav, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “Many are waiting by the phone should their number be called on May 23.”

Here are three of the most influential regional parties waiting for that call.

  • Bahujan Samaj: The party counts Dalits, or low-caste Indians, as its core constituency. Mayawati, the party’s leader, has not announced whom she would back in a coalition scenario, though many believe she is amenable to the B.J.P. if the party offers her a senior role in the government.

  • Telangana Rashtra Samiti: Based in Telangana, a state in southern India, the party has no regional political rivals and is likely to win around 17 seats. The party’s leader, K. Chandrashekhar Rao, has already announced that it would join an alliance under the right terms.

  • Biju Janata Dal: A powerful party in Odisha, a state in eastern India, the B.J.D. faces competition from the B.J.P. on its home turf. It has allied with the B.J.P. before, but may think twice if its political independence is threatened.