Narendra Modi, the charismatic Chief Minister of Gujarat is expected to be the next Prime Minister of India, if the exit polls taken after the last day of polling on May 12 are any indication.
Counting of votes- not less than 563 million at 66.38% polling rate – has begun for all the constituencies and the results are likely to be known by 11 pm New Zealand Time on March 16. But almost all opinion polls have thus far suggested that Mr Modi will be the next Prime Minister, with his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging as the single largest entity in the 16th Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament).
The Party has a number of regional parties in its coalition called the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Its main rival, the Congress, has had ordinary Indians riled with charges of corruption, inept administration and directionless leadership looming large.
Congress bigwigs including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka had also campaigned hard but analysts say that the Party and its partners in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) may not make it to the Treasury benches.
It is still a number game. BJP or Congress would each need 272 seats and the polling rate, which was better than the figure recorded in the previous (2009) general elections, may favour the NDA.
Exit polls in India have often been notoriously off the mark and hence many consider them more as Time Pass than as a serious indication of reality.
The India Today-Cicero poll gave 261 to 282 seats for the NDA, while the Times Now-ORG suggested 249 seats.
There was consistency in predicting the fortunes of the Congress and UPA, with most polls saying that the Alliance would not get past 97 seats.
Several Congress leaders including Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, and former Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan have stayed out of the electoral race while three other prominent Members of Parliament including Satpal Maharaj, Jagdambika Pal and D Purandeswari joined the BJP prior to the election.