Picture Gallery Others BJP gears up for ‘PM’, Narendra Modi poses for office Various exit pols have projected Gujarat Chief Narendra Modi to become the prime minister. Counting of votes, the grand finale in the nine-phased Lok Sabha elections, began today across the country. According to initial trends, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is leading 43 seats while Congress-led UPA has registered leads in 23 constituencies. Modi has battled stiff opposition from within the party to emerge as the face of BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Modi,who was a low profile BJP office-bearer till he was made Chief Minister of Gujarat to replace Keshubhai Patel in October 2001, controversially came into limelight in the wake of 2002 riots triggered after 59 Kar Sewaks were killed in Sabarmati Express fire on February 27. While having the image of a hardliner, Modi is also seen by many,including business leaders, as a Chief Minister who has led Gujarat to the path of sustained development. Modi's supporters argue that he is a decisive leader. At the same time, Modi’s critics see him as a dictatorial personality who does not tolerate dissent and discourages growth of any other leader. The possibility of Modi being pitchforked as the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP gained ground when he spearheaded the party to a resounding victory in Gujarat in the Assembly elections for a third consecutive term. The election was different for Modi as it was for the first time that elderly Keshubhai, whom he had replaced as the Chief Minister in 2001, parted ways with the BJP and floated his Gujarat Parivartan Party to rid the state of an ‘emergency like situation’. Modi also had reached out to his core constituency by organising state-wide yatra by projecting Swamy Vivekananda as his ideal on his 150th birth anniversary. As the voting for the Lok Sabha elections came to an end on May 12, exit polls have predicted a win for the NDA. NDA is projected to get 279 seats in Lok Sabha elections, crossing the required majority mark in the 543-member House. BJP alone could clock its highest-ever tally of 235 seats, according to NDTV-Hansa exit poll. The NDTV poll said Narendra Modi-led BJP will sweep Uttar Pradesh by winning 56 out of the total 80 seats and emerge victorious in 22 out of 40 seats in Bihar. Several exit polls aired on May 12 soon after the elections got over had forecast a victory for NDA, projecting its tally anywhere between 249 and 290. The NDTV-Hansa poll has projected major gains for BJP and its allies across Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan besides Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.