Modi promises ‘good days’ for India after election victory

BJP on track for first parliamentary majority by single party in 30 years

Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi greets his supporters after addressing a public meeting in Vadodara, Gujarat yesterday. Photograph:  Amit Dave/Reuters

Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi greets his supporters after addressing a public meeting in Vadodara, Gujarat yesterday. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters


A triumphant Narendra Modi is primed to become India’s 15th prime minister after his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a comfortable majority yesterday, forcefully defeating the ruling Congress Party in the recently concluded elections.

The stunning election results showed the BJP on track to secure India’s first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years.

Fireworks exploded at BJP offices across India and thousands of kilos of sweets were distributed as celebrations erupted a few hours after results, collated from electronic voting machines, were announced.

Soon afterwards Mr Modi, the son of a low-caste tea seller who is tainted by anti- Muslim violence in 2002 in his western home state of Gujarat, of which he has been chief minister for 13 years, tweeted: “India has won. Goods days are coming.”

Prime minister Manmohan Singh, who called Mr Modi to congratulate him on his victory, will tender his Congress Party government’s resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee today.

Five-year term
Mr Modi will be sworn in as prime minister for a five-year term next week, once the election commission formally notifies the poll results and a new parliament is summoned.

The BJP is on track to secure a comfortable parliamentary majority with more than 272 seats in India’s 543-member parliament; victories by its allies will take its combined tally to well over 330 MPs.

The Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi, the 44-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, slumped to its lowest election tally of fewer than 50 seats. Even combined with its many allies its score is not likely to reach even 60 parliamentary seats.

Consequently it will not even be eligible to stake its claim as the official opposition in parliament as, in keeping with the country’s constitution, it has failed to win 10 per cent of seats in the parliament.

Congress, which has been in power since 2004 and has been at the centre of national politics for almost 50 of 67 years since India gained independence, conceded defeat several hours into vote counting.

“We accept the people’s verdict in all humility,” party spokesman Shakil Ahmed said.

“Modi promised the moon and stars to the people and they bought his dream,” senior Congress Party minister Rajeev Shukla said. He said the party had not anticipated a defeat of the magnitude it had suffered.

But unquestioning Congress Party loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family had its senior leadership steadfastly refusing to blame Rahul Gandhi for its astounding defeat. They protectively circled round him yesterday, claiming the electoral setback was not his, but the party’s “collective responsibility”, even though voters perceived him as aloof and out of touch with reality.

The party’s ignominious defeat followed Mr Modi’s brilliantly choreographed hi-tech and well-financed presidential-style campaign backed by his rousing oratory, all of which was on display at more than 440 rallies across the country since January.

He promised better governance, economic growth and a graft-free administration compared with the Congress Party’s 10-year rule that was rife with corruption scandals, indecision, nepotism, increasing unemployment and the high cost of living.

Stock market surge
India’s stock markets, meanwhile, which had risen five per cent over the past week anticipating Mr Modi’s victory, surged further yesterday, while the declining rupee climbed to a 10-month high against the dollar. Financial analysts said overseas investors too were lining up to invest in an India hopeful of a better economic climate, responsive fiscal policies and a corruption-free environment under Mr Modi.

Analysts, however, warned that Mr Modi’s premiership could usher in a new style of abrasive leadership by a Hindu nationalist politician.

US and European Union leaders too have been wary of Mr Modi, having boycotted him for more than a decade following the 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat in which more than 1,000 died. Mr Modi, who was chief minister at the time, denies any lapse on his part in controlling the killings. And though he was exonerated by several inquiry commissions, his role in the sectarian rioting remains questionable.