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India's Opposition Leader Narendra Modi claims victory, will be country's next PM

Published:Friday | May 16, 2014 | 11:10 AM


Opposition leader Narendra Modi will be India's next prime minister, winning the most decisive victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power, partial results showed today.

As his overwhelming win became clear, Modi appeared before a crowd of cheering supporters and tried to strike a conciliatory note after a lengthy and punishing race.

"I have always said that to govern the nation it is our responsibility to take everyone with us," said Modi, whose slick campaign promised a revival of economic growth. "I want your blessings so that we can run a government that carries everyone with it."

Although Modi's win was resounding, critics worry that his rise could worsen sectarian tensions between India's majority Hindus and its 138 million Muslims.

The last time any single party won a majority in India was in 1984, when an emotional nation gave the Congress party a staggering victory of more than 400 seats following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The overwhelming victory gives Modi, a 63-year-old career politician, a strong mandate to govern India at a time of deep social and economic change.

India is in the throes of rapid urbanisation and globalisation just as the youth population skyrockets — with many new voters far less deferential to traditional voting patterns focused on family lineage and caste.


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