The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their candidate for Prime Minister Narendra Modi appear poised for a historic victory in the world’s largest election in India. Given logistical considerations in a country the size of India, results are not due for the 139-million strong national election until May 16th, but the BJP and Narendra Modi are in the lead according to virtually all pre-electoral and electoral polls. Political analysts caution there is still a chance that Narendra Modi did not quite get 50% of the vote and a runoff election may be required.

Narendra Modi

In an unusual move for an Indian politician, Narendra Modi gave a short speech after he voted, then took a “selfie” of himself and the BJP’s lotus symbol and posted the photograph on Twitter. Following the incident, the ruling Congress Party complained to the election commission that his using the party symbol violated election laws.

Narendra Modi — economic realist and divisive nationalist

Narendra Modi supporters call him a patriot and the future economic savior of the country, and opponents say his is an anti-Muslim ultra-nationalist. The truth is, of course, somewhere in-between. Scholars of Indian culture say Narendra Modi is much more complex than he is portrayed by his partisans or his foes, and may well surprise both sides with his flexibility if he does ascend to the prime ministership.

One thing that almost everyone agrees on is that Narendra Modi and the BJP ran a brilliant, high-energy campaign, including masterful use of social media on a large scale.

Complexities of Indian politics

Indian politics are notoriously complex. That is not really too surprising for a country that has been described as a collection of countries united only by a common currency. Furthermore, the results of Indian elections are famously difficult to predict, given the typical block voting by caste and religion. Last-minute swings for unexpected reasons often confound pollsters, as they did in the 2004 elections.

By the same token, Narendra Modi’s personal popularity does not necessarily translate into parliamentary seats. For example, a major BJP candidate may lose a contest in the state of Punjab because of anger with the state government led by a BJP ally.