Narendra Modi's BJP sweeps to power in landslide Indian election victory

Hindu nationalist pledges to take country forward as preliminary results show his party could claim first outright majority in 30 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 May, 2014, 2:51am

FOCUS: India’s states grow in power as new government set to take control in Delhi

Narendra Modi promised to work to “fulfil the dreams of 1.2 billion people” as he addressed cheering supporters for the first time yesterday after a landslide Indian election victory for his Hindu nationalist party.

Preliminary results at the end of the marathon six-week election showed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi on track for the first parliamentary majority by a single party since 1984.

Most Indians - more than half of whom are under 25 - have never witnessed such dominance, having grown up in an era of fractious coalition politics.

A sea of well-wishers from across his constituency of Vadodara in the western state of Gujarat turned out to hear the former tea boy, 63, who is poised to become prime minister of the world's second-most populous nation.

"The heat of the election is over and the people have given their verdict, which says that we need to take India forward to fulfil the dreams of India's 1.2 billion people," he said. "There are no enemies in democracy, there is only opposition. I will take your love and convert it into progress before I return."

Crowds erupted in cheers amid screams of "Modi! Modi!" as he took to the stage. "I want to take all of you with me to take this country forward ... it is my responsibility to take all of you with me to run this country," he told supporters. "Everyone's support and everyone's development is our mantra, and these are not hollow words, this is our spirit. That is why the people have given us a clear majority."

The triumph, which exceeded all forecasts, redraws India's political map, elevating the BJP to a pan-national power, handing Modi a huge mandate for change and heaping humiliation on the ruling Gandhi political dynasty.

The immediate change Modi will need to deliver is an improvement in the economy, growing at its slowest rate in a decade, and his commitment to the BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda will be closely watched by India's 150 million Muslims.

Preliminary figures from the Election Commission showed the BJP winning more than the 272 seats required for a majority on its own in the 543-seat parliament, with victories by its allies taking it easily in excess of 330.

The Congress party, the national secular force that has run India for all but 13 years since independence, was on course for its worst ever result, with fewer than 50 seats, a quarter of its tally in 2009. It has headed two successive left-leaning coalition governments since 2004.

The disastrous showing is a severe blow to the Gandhi dynasty which runs Congress.

In brief remarks and smiling despite the grim news, scion Rahul Gandhi, 43, admitted that Congress had "done pretty badly". "As vice-president of the party I hold myself responsible," he said.