Counting Begins in Indian Elections

Indian supporters stand on a specially designed bus bearing the image of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, for the celebration of BJP's win, on the roadside in Ahmedabad, India, 15 May 2014 (DPA).

NEW DELHI (DPA) — Counting began Friday of some 550 million votes cast in India's five-week-long general elections.

Exit polls favoured the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance and BJP leader Narendra Modi. 

The two-term Indian National Congress party-led alliance was likely to lose half the seats it won in the last election, according to the polls. 

Exit polls have, however, been inaccurate in the past two elections in 2004 and 2009.  

Votes recorded on electronic voting machines were being counted at 989 centres across the country.

"It just needs the push of a button to get the result of each machine after which the results are collated," said commission spokesman Rajesh Malhotra.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he will not be seeking another term even if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance wins.

The Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi led his party's campaign, which was also contested by the fledgling anti-graft Aam Aadmi Party.

Regional parties in West Bengal, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Orissa are expected to do well, according to exit polls.

Clear trends are expected by noon (0630 GMT) and most results by later Friday.