India's Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is on course for a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections, making an unassailable lead over the ruling Congress party, partial results show.
Narendra Modi, the BJP's leader, will most likely be the next prime minister of India, with early results on Friday showing his party headed for the biggest victory the country has seen in 30 years.
Partial results 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 300.
Modi, the 63-year-old son of a low-caste tea seller tainted by anti-Muslim violence in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, told cheering supporters that "good times are coming".
"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.
Modi made his first comments on results day in his constituency of Vadodara in his home state of Gujarat, where thousands chanted his name.
"I bow in front of the people of Vadodara for the love and each of the voters worked as Narendra Modi," he said.
Speaking in the capital, New Delhi, the BJP leader Rajnath Singh said "The poor, the weak...This party belongs to everybody."
"This is the time when you can write about India's success story."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called Modi to congratulate him on the victory, Singh's office said in a Tweet.
The stunning results exceeded all forecasts. Firecrackers exploded at BJP offices around the country and sweets were handed out in celebrations that began only a few hours after the first figures filtered out.
"This is the beginning of change, a people's revolution and the start of a new era," senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told AFP news agency at party headquarters in New Delhi.
Congress concedes defeat
The leaders of Congress party, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, admitted personal responsibility for the disastrous election results.
"We understand that victory and loss is part of democracy," party president Sonia told reporters in New Delhi.
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"We respect this decision. I take responsibility for this defeat," she said.
The Congress party, that has run India for all but 13 years since independence, was set to crash to its worst ever result after a decade in power.
The election commission was expected to announce full results later in the day. But early trends suggested that the BJP would earn enough parliamentary seats to create a government without forming a coalition with regional leaders.
Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman, reporting from New Delhi, said: "Modi has taken the pains to tell the community-at-large that everyone will prosper under his government."
"It is inevitable that countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan will be eyeing this very carefully," he said.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reporting from Islamabad, said there is are some fears from the Pakistani side, but the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he is looking forward to a positive relationship.
“Even though there is optimism things will move forward, there are apprehnsions,” Hyder said.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's Anmol Saxena, Nidhi Dutt, Baba Umar, Faiz Jamil and Karishma Vyas have been posting on Twitter about the elections, and early celebrations at BJP headquarters.
There was a record turnout in the elections, with 66.38 percent of the 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during several stages of the six-week ballot. Turnout in the 2009 elections was 58.13 percent.
There is widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling Congress Party, which has been plagued by repeated corruption scandals.
The BJP made promises of economic growth and better governance in a well-financed campaign.
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Source: Al Jazeera and agencies