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Modi celebrates landslide India poll win

Thousands join prime minister-elect in New Delhi, a day after his opposition BJP party swept to victory in election.

Last updated: 17 May 2014 21:21
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Narendra Modi, India's prime minister-elect, has arrived in New Delhi a day after voters handed his Bharatiya Janata Party a landslide election win.

A brass band struck up early on Saturday morning at the Indian capital's airport as thousands of supporters awaited Modi's arrival from the western state of Gujarat, where the night before he had addressed a sea of jubilant voters chanting his name.

The conservative BJP became the first party in three decades to secure a majority on its own.

Modi's win ends an era of shaky coalition governments, giving him ample room to advance economic modernisation which started 23 years ago by Manmohan Singh, the outgoing prime minister, but which have stalled in recent years.

     
 

Despite his party's defeat, Singh, 81, was graceful in his final address to the nation on Saturday, wishing the incoming government success.

"I am confident about the future of India," he said in his televised message.

"I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come."

Unlike Singh and his predecessors, Modi, 63, will not have to deal with unruly partners to implement reform.

That could usher in profound economic changes, with some supporters imagining him as India's answer to former British leader Margaret Thatcher.

With more than six times the seats of his closest rival, Modi's is the most decisive mandate for a leader since the 1984 assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Congress party prime minister, propelled her son to office.

Starting with the subsequent election in 1989, India has been governed by coalitions.

With almost all seats declared by Saturday morning, Modi's BJP looked set to win 282 seats, 10 more than the majority required to rule. With its allied parties, it was heading for a comfortable tally of around 337.

The desire for change among the youthful electorate after a slump in economic growth, years of policy drift and a spate of corruption scandals appears to have overridden concerns about Modi's pro-Hindu leanings and violent riots against Muslims that occurred on his watch in Gujarat 12 years ago.

Modi's declaration

In his victory speech on Friday, Modi addressed concerns that the BJP's Hindu nationalist ideology would sideline minorities, declaring that "the age of divisive politics has ended - from today onwards the politics of uniting people will begin".

Modi's post-election priorities

"No words will be enough to salute the youth of India. They led from the front in the elections & rose above non-issues like caste & creed," Modi wrote on his Twitter page late on Friday.

In Washington DC, the Obama administration congratulated Modi, and said he would be granted a visa for US travel.

The US denied Modi a visa in 2005 over the sectarian riots three years previously in Gujarat state, where he was chief minister.

Modi is expected to try to replicate his success in attracting investment and building infrastructure in Gujarat, the state he has governed for more than 12 years.

Betting on a Modi win, foreign investors have poured more than $16bn into Indian stocks and bonds in the past six months and now hold over 22 percent of Mumbai-listed equities - a stake estimated by Morgan Stanley at almost $280bn.

But with India's economy suffering its worst slowdown since the 1980s and battling high inflation, it will not be an easy task to meet the hopes of millions of Indians who have bought into the idea that Modi will quickly push their country onto the top table of global economic powers.

His party also lacks strength in the upper house of parliament, where backing is needed for legislation to pass.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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