India opposition 'in landslide win'

Narendra Modi on left

Opposition leader Narendra Modi is set to win India’s election by a landslide, according to preliminary results.

Early results show his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) easily driving out the long-dominant Congress Party in the most commanding election victory India has seen in more than a quarter of a century.

The party now has a commanding lead for 272 seats in the lower house of parliament, the majority needed to create an independent government without forming a coalition with smaller parties.

The full results are expected later but it’s unlikely that Mr Modi’s party would see a significant reversal.

With a note of triumph, Mr Modi tweeted “India has won!” as the results came out.

The Congress Party, which has been at the centre of Indian politics for most of the country’s history since independence from Britain, conceded defeat several hours into the vote counting.

“We are accepting the people’s verdict in all humility,” party spokesman Shakil Ahmed said. “Trends of the counting are certainly not in our favour. The trends point out that the country has decided to vote against us.”

At BJP headquarters in New Delhi, workers were handing out sweets, setting off firecrackers and dancing outside in the streets.

BJP spokeswoman Nirmala Seetharaman said the results were even better than expected.

“That certainly is good news, which we will savor with great delight,” she said. “It means that people of India found the (connection) with Narendra Modi.”

There was a record turnout in the election, with 66.38% of India’s 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest, which began on April 7 and was held in stages across the country.

Turnout in the 2009 general election was 58.13%.

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