- Election results 2014: BJP leads in 17, Congress in 7, JDS 1 in KarnatakaElection results 2014: Congress MP trailing in LakshadweepElection results 2014: In Narendra Modi's Gujarat LK Advani leading from GandhinagarElection results 2014: BJP set for landslide win in UP; Narendra Modi beats Arvind Kejriwal
Early results in India's general election put opposition leader Narendra Modi on course for an absolute majority on Friday, handing him an unfettered mandate to launch his agenda to revive growth and create jobs.
Partial counts showed Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies leading in 309 seats out of 543 being contested. The ruling Congress party alliance was ahead in just 72, according to NDTV news.
Jubilant BJP supporters banged drums, lit firecrackers and waved flags outside the party's headquarters in New Delhi, as results showed Modi ahead in both the seats he was contesting, in his home state of Gujarat and the holy city of Varanasi.
Rahul Gandhi, who led the Congress campaign, was leading by a slender margin in his seat of Amethi, a family bastion that has been held in turn by his uncle, father and mother, Sonia. A loss there would spell disaster for the great grandson of India's independence leader.
With the BJP leading in 261 seats, the party was not far short of a majority on its own, confirming the findings of the most optimistic exit polls. Returns from 989 counting stations were based on partial counts, with no results yet declared.
"This is undoubtedly going to be a BJP government," said Prannoy Roy, head of NDTV news and a political analyst.
Such an outcome would open the way for Modi, 63, to become prime minister and act quickly to form the core of a new government by naming loyalists to the prized cabinet posts of finance, home, defence and external affairs.
"We didn't go by the exit polls. We went by the sense on the ground," said Piyush Goyal, BJP treasurer.
"It looks pretty bleak at the moment," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Congress leader, adding he would wait for final results.
Betting on a Modi win, foreign investors have poured more than $16 billion into Indian stocks and bonds in the past six months and now hold over 22 percent of Mumbai-listed equities - a stake estimated by Morgan Stanley at almost $280 billion.
Indian markets got off to a roaring start, with the rupee breaking below 59 to the U.S. dollar, a near 10-month high, and benchmark stock indexes up 6 percent.
Since being named as his party's candidate last September, Modi has flown 300,000 km and addressed 457 rallies in a slick, presidential-style campaign that has broken the mould of Indian politics.
In so doing, Modi