The Congress-led UPA is all set to retain power at the Centre putting up an impressive performance in states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to overwhelm the BJP-led NDA.The UPA alliance is ahead in 250 constituencies with Congressalone leading in 198 seats. The ruling Front is just short of a little over 20 seats for the magic figure of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha. The NDA is leading in 157 seats with BJP ahead in 119 seats.

The Congress exulted over its victory saying it was a vindication of its policies while BJP spokespersons were still unwilling to concede defeat though they admitted that the UPA was ahead in early trends.Manmohan Singh will be the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after a full five-year term with the Congress having nominated him as its candidate for the top post, first time it had done in its history.The Congress performance was spectacular in Kerala where it routed the Left Front and dealt a severe blow to the Marxists in West Bengal with help from ally Trinamool Congress.

It also swept Delhi, did exceedingly well in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and more than doubled its tally in UP leading in 20 of the 80 seats there.