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PM Modi's coalition set to return to power in India

New Delhi

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi is likely to return to power at the head of a coalition government, with exit polls predicting his Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies will win a majority of seats in India's parliament.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will win as many as 306 seats in India's 543-seat lower house, according to an exit poll from TV channel Times Now.

The opposition Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition will win an estimated 132 seats, exit polls said.

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Exit polls from Republic TV indicated the count would be 287 seats to Mr Modi's coalition and 128 seats for the opposition Congress alliance.

Polls were released on Sunday evening after the last of India's 900 million registered voters cast ballots in a gruelling six-week-long election that started on April 11.

Markets are likely to cheer signs that Mr Modi will return to power, even if he is slightly more constrained without the single-party majority the BJP won in 2014.

Although exit and survey polls in India are often inaccurate, most pre-election surveys had suggested Mr Modi would return to power at the head of a slightly weaker coalition government with allies. BLOOMBERG