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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a second term in office following the country’s marathon seven-phase general elections, the world’s largest democratic exercise ever.
Official data from the Election Commission showed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 303 of the 542 seats, up from the 282 it had won in 2014. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has won 352 seats.
The opposition Indian National Congress (INC) won 52 seats. In 2014, the Congress was reduced to 44 – its worst performance ever.
About 67 percent of more than 900 million eligible voters cast their ballots in the staggered elections that the ruling party fought on issues of national security and a hardline Hindu agenda.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken to Narendra Modi and congratulated the Indian leader on the runaway election victory, Pakistan’s foreign office said.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in the Lok Sabha elections in India,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister expressed his desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples.”
Surendra Singh, aide to BJP candidate Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress party chief Rahul Gandhi in Amethi – the most stunning upset of the Indian election – was shot dead overnight, police said.
Singh worked closely with Irani, distributing sweets and parading with celebrating supporters on Friday, a day after the election results, his relatives told ANI news agency.
He had gone to sleep on the veranda outside his home when unidentified gunmen shot him, Amethi Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar told Reuters.
India’s president has appointed Narendra Modi as the prime minister, soon after newly elected politicians led by the BJP chose him as their leader on Saturday.
President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet that he also asked Modi to forward the names of those to be appointed as ministers in his government, and the date for swearing-in for his second five-year term as prime minister.
Modi will be be sworn in by Kovind on Thursday, a statement from the president’s office said.
The President will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the Prime Minister and other members of the Union Council of Ministers at 7 pm on May 30, 2019, at Rashrapati Bhavan
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) May 26, 2019
After being formally chosen as the head of the BJP-led ruling alliance on Saturday, Modi said India’s national election “has become a movement of social unity”.
“It is generally said that the election divides, creates distances, makes walls. But the 2019 elections have worked to break the walls,” he said in an address in New Delhi.
His critics have accused Modi and his party of pursuing divisive policies as part of a Hindu-first agenda.
Weeks before the general elections in India, opinion polls were already showing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a fair chance of returning to office. He was riding on the crest of militaristic nationalism which gripped the nation after the military escalation with Pakistan in February.
But few had expected the tidal wave with which Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the opposition aside to win a second term. The official results released on May 23 revealed that the ruling party had gone beyond even what Modi and his most-trusted aide and party president, Amit Shah, had set as a goal.
Narendra Modi has been formally and “unanimously” elected as the leader of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which swept the Indian general election winning 352 of 542 seats.
Media reports said the “unanimous” decision was taken at a meeting of the NDA partners in Indian parliament’s central hall in New Delhi. Modi is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind later on Saturday to stake a claim to form the government.
A beleagured Congress party has rejected its president Rahul Gandhi’s offer to quit following the main opposition party’s stunning defeat in the general elections, Indian media reports said.
The 48-year-old leader had offered to quit at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee held in New Delhi. The committee includes his mother and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well as former Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh.
Results show 78 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats have been won by women – a record high in the world’s largest democracy, but still well below the global average of nearly one in four seats.
India was one of the first countries to have a female leader, but more than five decades after Indira Gandhi became prime minister, women’s participation in politics remains stubbornly low.
Indian media reports say Narendra Modi is likely to be sworn in for his second term as prime minister on May 30.
On Friday, Modi presented his resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind, who asked him to continue to serve until the new government assumes office.
A second straight landslide election defeat for the opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raises serious questions about his leadership and casts a damaging shadow over one of the world’s most prominent political dynasties.
Gandhi, who even lost the family constituency seat of Amethi to the Hindu nationalist BJP, will have to face the music at a meeting of party leaders in coming days.
The election results made grim reading for Congress barons who have relied for generations on the talismanic Nehru-Gandhi name to provide electoral success. Congress failed to get a single seat in 13 of the country’s 29 states.
India’s economy is set for a major boost if Modi follows through with key campaign promises following his party’s sweeping election victory.
The BJP pledged cash handouts to farmers, $1.44 trillion to build roads, railways and other infrastructure, a boost to manufacturing, and a doubling in exports.
Those promises, along with tax cuts for middle class Indians, resonated with voters, who gave the BJP a majority of the seats in the parliament.
The number of Muslim members of parliament has increased marginally from 4.2 percent in 2014 to 4.8 percent with the election of 26 Muslims to the Lok Sabha.
None of the elected Muslims belong to the Hindu nationalist BJP, according to data website, IndiaSpend. Muslims constitute nearly 14 percent of India’s population.
Most Muslim MPs belong to the Congress (5), Trinamool Congress (5), Samajwadi Party (3), Bahujan Samaj Party (3), Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (3) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (2).
Representation of Muslims–who constitute 14% of Indian population–in Parliament will increase marginally by 0.6%-pts from 4.2% to 4.8% with the election of 26 Muslim candidates in the 17th Lok Sabha elections. In 2014, 23 Muslim candidates became MPs. Follow thread:
— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) May 24, 2019
Actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar, chief of the Congress party in the politically-critical state of Uttar Pradesh has resigned, Indian news agency PTI reported.
Babbar’s resignation followed the Congress’s worst ever showing in the state having 80 Lok Sabha seats, with party president Rahul Gandhi losing in Amethi, a family borough he had retained since 2004.
Speaking with Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman in New Delhi, Shruti Kapila of the University of Cambridge said economy remains the biggest challenge before Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“It’s interesting that when Modi spoke yesterday at his victory speech, he spoke very little about economy. But it is one of the biggest concerns that will face the prime minister because India has historic unemployment rate at the moment,” she said.
“India also has a very young, very demanding, aspirational young population who voted for him. The big businesses also supported him and now will be keen to see reforms and rolling back of welfare.”
Modi will hold talks to form a new cabinet to tackle a stuttering economy and other challenges facing his second term after winning a big majority.
He has not yet set an inauguration date for the administration, but BJP officials said he was expected to move quickly to put together a new cabinet.
An immediate decision will be whether to keep senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley as finance minister despite his poor health, or assign Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal to the job of leading Asia’s third largest economy.
Thank you @realDonaldTrump!
This victory represents the aspirations of a nation of 1.3 billion people.
I too am looking forward to working closely with you for closer bilateral ties, which also augur well for global peace and prosperity. https://t.co/MbnDQBBnMF
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2019
The Pakistani and Indian prime ministers have exchanged messages via Twitter after Modi returned to power in an election contested in the wake of a confrontation between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
Imran Khan said in a tweet that he was ready to cooperate with the returning government for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”
Shortly after delivering a victory speech, Modi thanked Khan. “I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region,” he said.
The prime minister has addressed thousands of BJP supporters who waited for hours in a thunderstorm for his arrival at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi.
“We all want a new India. I want to bow my head and say thank you,” he said. “Whatever happened in these elections is in the past, we have to look ahead. We have to take everyone forward, including our staunchest opponents.”
He also took aim at the people who doubted the BJP could increase its majority.
“The political pundits of India have to leave behind their ideas of the past,” he added.
Controversial Hindu ascetic and BJP leader Pragya Thakur has defeated an opposition Congress strongman by a big margin in the central city of Bhopal.
The 49-year-old is accused of plotting a bomb attack on Muslims in 2006, in which six people were killed.
Thakur is the first person accused of “terrorism” to be fielded by a major political group in India.
Rahul Gandhi, president of the opposition Congress party, has conceded defeat in Amethi, the constituency in Uttar Pradesh state that the 48-year-old leader represented since 2004.
“I respect the decision and congratulate Smriti Irani,” Gandhi said at a press conference in New Delhi, referring to the BJP leader who defeated him.
The Congress leader also congratulated Modi. “Today, people have clearly given their decision. I congratulate the PM and BJP,” he said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated his Indian counterpart for his election victory.
“I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.” Khan posted on Twitter.
Modi has promised to unite the country after the massive election win, with his party on course to increase its majority on a mandate in India’s parliament.
“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!” the Hindu nationalist leader posted on Twitter.
Official Election Commission data at 1030 GMT showed Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP ahead in 298 of the 542 seats available, up from the 282 it won in 2014.
सबका साथ + सबका विकास + सबका विश्वास = विजयी भारत
Together we grow.
Together we prosper.
Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.
India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2019
Modi has congratulated the heads of two regional parties who won the assembly elections in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.
“Dear @ysjagan, congratulations on the remarkable win in Andhra Pradesh. Best wishes to you for a successful tenure,” he posted, addressing YS Jaganmohan Reddy, chief of YSR Congress Party, which swept the southern state.
“Congratulations to Naveen Babu for yet another victory in Odisha. Wishing him the very best for the next term,” the BJP leader said in another tweet for Naveen Patnaik, the Odisha chief minister who won an impressive fifth term.
BJP president Amit Shah has tweeted that the election results, which are yet to be finalised, were a victory “for all of India”.
“This result is India’s verdict against the propaganda, lies, personal attacks and baseless politics of the opposition,” he added.
“Today’s mandate also shows that people of India have entirely uprooted casteism, nepotism and appeasement to choose nationalism and development.”
A number of world leaders have congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his historic return to power for a second straight term.
Among the leaders who have sent their congratulatory messages are Afghanistan president Ashraf Gani, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Chinese president Xi Jinping and Nepal’s PM K P Sharma.
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2019
Former student leader Kanhaiya Kumar has lost in the eastern state of Bihar’s Begusarai constituency, one of the most followed electoral contests in the Indian election.
India’s newspaper The Indian Express said Kumar, 31, lost to hardline BJP leader Giriraj Singh by a massive margin of nearly three lakh votes.
Kumar was fielded in Begusarai by the Communist Party of India.
In New Delhi, Fatima A of the Rahul Priyanka Gandhi Sena, a group headed by the opposition Congress party, told Al Jazeera that the general election results are “totally unexpected”.
“We thought this was the time for Modi to go,” she said.
Academic Manindra Nath Thakur, who teaches at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, said Modi will face virtually no opposition in his second straight term as prime minister.
“The Congress has not done well and therefore there will be virtually no opposition to BJP for the next five years,” he told Al Jazeera.
Congratulations, my friend @Narendramodi, on your impressive election victory! The election results further reaffirm your leadership of the world's largest democracy. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between India & Israel.
Well done, my friend! 🇮🇱🤝🇮🇳 https://t.co/2U5yJmHddS
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) May 23, 2019
When asked what the BJP win means for India, he said, “It means three things: the discourse of forming a Hindu state will remain very dominant, the country will move towards more rigorous capitalism, and some new kind of welfare mechanism will be rolled out to keep the masses in favour of the party.”
If India was a Muslim country, the Western media would be rivetted by the spectacle, besides themselves with denunciatory hysteria. Which is, in fact, the right response. But since it's nice spiritual peaceful Hindus with lots of market and trade lolly, hey ho.
— Priyamvada Gopal (@PriyamvadaGopal) May 23, 2019
As results suggesting a massive BJP win began to emerge, India’s Muslims said they were worried about the future of secularism in the country.
“This election shows that the BJP’s anti Muslim campaign has succeeded,” shopkeeper Faizan Zafar, 25, told Al Jazeera in New Delhi. “This time it looks like Muslims will be finished and they will declare a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (theocratic Hindu state).”
Reporting from New Delhi, Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman has said the BJP is leading in 292 seats, a tally better than its performance in 2014.
“The BJP is leading in 292 constituencies. If they win all of these seats, they are in majority on their own,” he said.
“The BJP has retained its voter base except a few seats in Uttar Pradesh state. But they have made inroads in two very important states: Odisha and West Bengal.”
The votes are also being counted in four state assembly elections. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is likely to resign later on Thursday, Indian news agency ANI said.
In the eastern state of Odisha, the latest trends show the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leading in 94 seats, the BJP in 28, and the Congress in 12 constituencies.
The BJP’s parliamentary board meeting is scheduled to be held around 1200 GMT on Thursday. PM Modi will meet his party’s workers at their office in capital New Delhi, Indian news agency ANI said.
The mood was upbeat at the BJP headquarters with party workers cheering as TV channels reported a growing lead.
“It’s a huge mandate for positive politics and the policies of Narendra Modi,” said GVL Narasimha Rao, a BJP spokesperson. “It’s a huge win for India, we are humbled by the magnificence of this victory.”
Andhra Pradesh assembly election trends: YSRCP leading on 149 seats, TDP leading on 25 seats and Janasena Party leading on 1 seat pic.twitter.com/zHvRu39Kbl
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2019
Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the northern state of Punjab and a senior Congress leader, has conceded defeat in the general elections.
“We have lost the battle,” Singh told the India Today TV news channel. The Congress is yet to officially release its statement on the defeat.
Modi’s party has won the general election, a senior BJP leader has said as early results suggest a sweep by the right-wing party.
Gujarat: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother Heeraben Modi greets the media outside her residence in Gandhinagar. pic.twitter.com/yR2Zi9eeL1
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2019
“Many congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for delivering such a massive victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party,” Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter.
“I express my gratitude to the people of the country.”
Indian shares surge to record highs as early trends showed the BJP-led NDA coalition was way ahead of its main opposition UPA led by the Congress.
Investor sentiment has been buoyant since exit polls were announced on Sunday, with both the National Stock Exchange index and the Bombay Stock Eschange index gaining 3.7 percent each the next session, a level last seen in 2014.
Sensex currently at 40,015.49 https://t.co/hnY9iW4Mz0
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2019
India’s NDTV news channel has said Modi’s BJP has crossed the halfway mark of 272 seats in the lower house of India’s parliament “on its own steam” within two hours of the counting.
The BJP has performed well in the Hindi-speaking states in the north – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the network said.
The state governments in all the three states are headed by the opposition Congress.
Early trends show Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP may retain power for a second straight term.
The trends at 10.30 am (0500 GMT) showed the BJP leading in 326 of the 542 seats, followed by the Congress at 106, according to the Indian media.
A party or coalition needs 272 votes for a simple majority in Lok Sabha, Indian parliament’s lower house.
The “postal ballots” are counted first, followed by votes from the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Al Jazeera’s Sohail Rahman reported from capital New Delhi.
Postal ballots are cast by security personnel serving in the armed and paramilitary forces, and diplomats serving outside India.
India is counting about 600 million votes in its general election with a coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party predicted to win a clear majority.
The vote count started at 0800 local time (0230 GMT), and results are likely to be clear later in the day. If there is a clear trend, this should be evident by around midday (0630 GMT).
Exit polls pointed to a victory for Modi but such projections have been wrong in the past.
— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2019