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India stocks, currency buoyed by exit polls showing victory for BJP

NEW DELHI - India's stock market and currency rallied Tuesday on exit polls predicting election victory for a pro-business party and its allies.

Official election results are expected on Friday, but exit polls by at least six major Indian TV stations show the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party likely to win enough seats to form a coalition government.

The Sensex stock index rose above 24,000 for the first time, gaining more than 2 per cent before paring its gain. The dollar, meanwhile, fell to 59.60 rupees from 60.05 rupees on Monday.

The BJP and its candidate for prime minister Narendra Modi campaigned on promises of a revival in economic growth amid widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling Congress party after a decade in power.

The exit polls predicted a BJP led coalition would win between 249 and 289 seats in the 543-seat parliament.

The BJP's well-financed campaign also promised better governance. The Congress-led government has been plagued by repeated scandals and the Congress party's 43-year-old leader, Rahul Gandhi, has generally failed to inspire the public.

There was a record turnout in this year's elections, with 66.38 per cent of the 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest held in stages across the country. Turnout in the 2009 elections was 58.13 per cent.

Elections in India are generally considered free and fair.

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