The Latest on India’s general elections results (all times local):

9 a.m.

Early results are showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party in the lead in India’s general elections.

Election officials begin counting votes of India's massive general elections, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Election officials begin counting votes of India’s massive general elections, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Election Commission data showed the Bharatiya Janata Party leading in contests for 229 seats, with its main rival, the Indian National Congress, ahead in 56 contests.

The count that started Thursday was expected to conclude by the evening. In the world’s largest democratic exercise, some 900 million people were registered to cast ballots for 542 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament in seven phases of voting staggered over six weeks.

A party or coalition needs a simple majority, or 272 seats, to govern.

An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard outside a room where voting machines are stored as counting of votes in India's massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard outside a room where voting machines are stored as counting of votes in India’s massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

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7:30 a.m.

Indian election officials have begun counting votes that were cast in the country’s mammoth general elections.

Election officials begin counting votes of India's massive general elections, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Election officials begin counting votes of India’s massive general elections, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The count began Thursday morning and was expected to conclude by the evening. Voters cast ballots on some 40 million electronic voting machines.

Half a dozen exit polls showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party remaining in power for another five years.

In the world’s largest democratic exercise, some 900 million people were registered to cast ballots for 542 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament in seven phases of polling staggered over six weeks.

Indian paramilitary force soldiers stand guard outside a room where voting machines are stored as counting votes of India's massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indian paramilitary force soldiers stand guard outside a room where voting machines are stored as counting votes of India’s massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The election has been seen as a referendum on Modi, whose economic reforms broadly haven’t succeeded but whose popularity as a social underdog in India’s highly stratified society has endured.

Indian policemen stand guard as counting votes of India's massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indian policemen stand guard as counting votes of India’s massive general elections begins in New Delhi, India, Thursday, May 23, 2019. The count is expected to conclude by the evening, with strong trends visible by midday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

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