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Modi's return will power India's defence, infra stocks, Motilal Oswal's Agrawal says

By Bharath Rajeswaran

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi returning to power for a rare third consecutive term will boost shares of defence, infrastructure, railway and capital goods companies, the head of brokerage Motilal Oswal Financial Services said.

"These were areas where the government has focussed on, invested money. High probability that the ruling government will continue. If they return... they'll go (with) much more vigor," Raamdeo Agrawal, chairman and co-founder of the brokerage, said on Saturday.

"In the next 5 years, you'll see major action from the government, powering these sectors."

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India's weeks-long general elections end on Saturday, with the ballots set to be counted on June 4.

Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to return to power, according to opinion polls, although low voter turnout has led to some concerns about the margin of victory.

Analysts see a shock defeat for Modi as an unlikely event, but fear a market correction - like one witnessed two decades ago - in the event of an 'unclear' mandate.

India's benchmark Nifty 50 had slumped 17% in two sessions after the 2004 election results, when the then ruling BJP-led coalition lost, despite being tipped to retain power.

In his two terms, Modi has focussed on improving India's ramshackle infrastructure and boosting domestic manufacturing, including in the defence sector. The government has proposed a record infrastructure spending of $133 billion in the financial year 2025.

Shares of top defence, infrastructure and capital goods companies have risen between 64% and 480% over the last 12 months, outperforming the Nifty 50's one-fourth rise.

"If, for whatever reason, there is no clear mandate to the ruling party, then it's scary. The correction will be pretty sharp because the expectation built for policy continuity is very high," Motilal Oswal's Agrawal said.

Any changes to the country's capital gains tax regime in the post-election budget could also hurt the market, he said.

"The issue of capital gains tax tweaks is definitely there on the table. The government has not denied it. It is a major unknown," Agrawal said.

(Reporting by Bharath Rajeswaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)