Landslide Win Puts Opposition Party In Charge In India

Defying expectations of a close vote that would require a coalition, opposition leader Narendra Modi and his BJP party won India's election outright, by a huge margin.

In a historic result, opposition leader Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party are celebrating a resounding win in India's elections Friday, after ousting the Congress party that has long dominated politics in the world's largest democracy.

As of Friday afternoon, the tally kept by India's NDTV showed Modi's party, the BJP, winning or leading in 334 districts, compared to 59 for the Congress party. The final tally isn't yet out, but the BJP has far surpassed the required 272 of 543 total seats.

"That's a phenomenal feat in India," NPR's Julie McCarthy reports on Morning Edition, "where governments traditionally have had to stitch together coalitions to rule this huge and varied land."

The strong showing as results were reported led the Congress party to concede defeat. Because India has more than 800 million eligible voters, its election takes weeks to complete. And while exit polls had indicated a rise for Modi's party, the BJP, many had expected it would have to form a coalition.

Julie says one of Modi's supporters told her, "It's not a tsunami – it's a super-tsunami."

From the BBC:

"Crowds surged around Modi's car after he visited his mother's home in the western state of Gujarat. He sent a message saying 'India has won,' that instantly set a record as the country's most retweeted Twitter post."

The BJP calls the win "a complete repudiation of what they call corruption and dynastic politics," Julie says.

That would be a reference to the Congress party, which has led India for most of the years since it gained independence. It is currently led by Sonia Gandhi, whose son, Rahul, was Modi's opponent. The party has been in power in India for the past 10 years; it entered this election reeling from scandals and a poor economy.

In addition to anti-incumbent sentiment, Julie says many voters are impatient for India to join the world's elite economies. Modi, 63, has campaigned on a pro-business platform.

Those feelings are prevalent among young voters, who gave Modi strong support.

"There are 100 million more voters that were added to the voting rolls since five years ago," she says.

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