Police chased supporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party up gate posts and formed human chains to contain celebrations as the Narendra Modi-led alliance headed for the nation’s biggest electoral win in three decades.
“Hail Mother India, hail Modi,” roared thousands gathered at the BJP’s office in Gandhinagar, capital of the western state of Gujarat, over relentless drumming as Modi arrived waving a victory sign at the frenzied crowd.
The BJP and its allies lead in 335 of 543 seats up for grabs, the NDTV 24x7 television station reported, more than the 272 needed for a majority and set to win the most seats since its inception in 1980. Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress, conceded defeat as the party headed for its worst-ever performance since India’s independence in 1947.
“I believe Modi when he says good times are here,” said Rajesh Sharma, a 45-year-old taxi driver, who stopped his vehicle outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi and switched off his mobile phone so that his employer couldn’t reach him, while he ate sweets distributed by party workers.
The son of a tea-seller, Modi, 63, campaigned on a pledge to revive Asia’s third-biggest economy, downplaying concerns that he would push a pro-Hindu agenda and quash minority rights. He traveled more than 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) since September and used holograms to appear at 1,300 events to attract 100 million first-time voters, according to a BJP official.
“India has won!,” Modi said in a Twitter message, which was retweeted more than 59,000 times. Television images showed him in his home state of Gujarat touching the feet of his mother as she applied a streak of sacred vermilion powder on his forehead, a traditional blessing in India.
Later in the day, he thanked his supporters in Vadodara, Gujarat, in his first speech after sweeping toward victory. Vadodara is one of two constituencies from where he contested the polls and won.
“The heat and dust of elections are over and the verdict is out,” he said. “The verdict tells us that we have to carry India forward.”
At the BJP’s Delhi headquarters, a truck spewed confetti and flowers into the air, artists painted elephants with the BJP’s lotus insignia, and loudspeakers blared religious hymns. In Gandhinagar women in crimson saris danced undaunted by the 40 degree-Celsius (104 degree Fahrenheit) heat.
“India will become like a Western country,” Raunak Patel, 20, said as supporters tussled over Modi-emblazoned T-shirts and children climbed trees for a better view of him outside the BJP office in Gandhinagar.
Earlier today in New Delhi Congress officials briefed about 50 reporters at the deserted party headquarters. Banners had been removed and photographs of Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India’s foremost political dynasty who’d led the party’s campaign, were nowhere to be seen.