Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party was set for a historic victory as India on Thursday counted hundreds of millions of votes from its general election.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was ahead in 342 of 542 seats, broadcaster NDTV said. That would give it the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984.
The opposition United Progressive Alliance, led by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress party, was leading in 89 seats.
This gives his party a mandate to pursue policies that put Hindus first, are mainly business-friendly and take a hard line on national security.
“It’s a huge mandate for positive politics and the policies of Narendra Modi,” said GVL Narasimha Rao, a BJP spokesman. “It’s a huge win for India. We are humbled by the magnificence of this victory.”
Congress leaders were somber.
“It’s obviously not in our favor at all,” said Salman Soz, a Congress spokesman. “We need to wait for the full results but right now it doesn’t look good.”
K.C. Suri, professor of political science at the University of Hyderabad said, “Basically, there was no credible alternative to the BJP. Rahul Gandhi was no match for Modi. Especially in a situation when there is a quite a bit of party fragmentation and social division, a nation looks for strong leadership. And the opposition to the incumbent party has been fragmented, scattered and lacked credibility. Hence, people voted for the incumbent party.”
The immediate economic challenges for Modi’s government are to address employment, the issue of agricultural income and revive the banking sector. Markets have rallied ahead of the announcement, but for this rally to be sustained concrete steps are needed to address liquidity and credit issues.
Final results are due by Thursday evening.