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(BJP) leader and India’s next prime minister Narendra Modi greets the media as he leaves the residence of his 90-year-old mother in Gandhinagar
India’s BJP heads for landslide win - Rupee at 11-month high Nehru-Gandhi dynasty trounced in seismic political shift

NEW DELHI, May 16, (Agencies): Narendra Modi thundered to victory on Friday in India’s election, trouncing the ruling Nehru- Gandhi dynasty in a seismic political shift that gives the Hindu nationalist and his party a mandate for sweeping economic reform. Modi’s landslide, the most resounding election victory India has seen in 30 years, was welcomed with a blistering rally on India’s stock markets and raucous celebrations at offices across the country of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where supporters danced, let off fireworks and handed out sweets.

The BJP looked certain of a parliamentary majority, giving the 63-year-old former tea-seller ample room to advance reforms started 23 years ago by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but which stalled in recent years. Speaking to a sea of people dressed in the party’s official orange colours and chanting his name in his home state of Gujarat, Modi thanked the nation, and immediately addressed concerns his pro- Hindu leanings would sideline minorities. “The age of divisive politics has ended, from today onwards the politics of uniting people will begin,” Modi said. “We want more strength for the wellbeing of the country ... I see a glorious and prosperous India.” Singh’s Congress party suffered its worst ever wipeout, a big boost to Modi’s goal of ending the dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family that has governed for most of the 67 years of independent India.

Singh, whose party looked set to win less than 50 of the 543 parliamentary seats at stake, congratulated Modi with a telephone call.

Party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul quickly conceded defeat. The desire for change has been so strong that voters put aside concerns about Modi’s Hindu-centric politics. “India’s economy was in the doldrums. We have hope that he’ll lift up the economy, that he’ll create jobs,” said Shailesh Jha, 29, embracing a jubilant group of friends at the BJP’s Delhi headquarters. Jha echoed the sentiment of those who believed Modi’s promises of economic growth to meet the demands of millions of youngsters who reach working age each year and could boost India’s productivity if given jobs.

With more than six times the seats of its closest rival, Modi’s is the most decisive mandate for a leader since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son to office. Since 1989, India has been governed by coalitions. By 10 pm (1630 GMT), the BJP had won or was winning in 282 seats in parliament, counting trends showed, comfortably across the halfway mark of 272 required to rule. An alliance led by the party was ahead in 340 seats, TV channel NDTV said. Responding to the news, Indian markets got off to a roaring start, with the rupee breaking below 59 to the US dollar, an 11-month high, and the benchmark stock index jumping 6 percent to a record high before paring its gains.

Pakistan’s prime minister called India’s Narendra Modi Friday to congratulate him on his landslide election win, suggesting Islamabad is keen to promote better ties with its giant neighbour. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke to Modi, leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to hail the “impressive victory”, a statement from the Pakistani leader’s office said. There have been fears that a victory for Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP could signal bumpy times ahead for the two nuclear powers.

Preliminary results following India’s six-week election showed the BJP on course for the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years. Since his own election victory in May last year, Sharif has sought to improve ties with India, Pakistan’s traditional arch-rival. Meanwhile, Modi has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Britain in the wake of his election win, Downing Street said Friday in a major turnaround from London’s previous boycott of the Hindu nationalist.

Britain effectively froze all ties with Modi for 10 years over anti-Muslim violence in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, but reinstated them with him in 2012 as part of a general bid to boost relations with India. “The Prime Minister called Narendra Modi this morning to congratulate him on his victory in the Indian elections and the record turnout, making this the biggest democratic election in history,” a spokesman for Cameron said. “Mr Modi said he would be delighted to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to visit the UK.

Both leaders agreed on the importance of the UK-India relationship and agreed to work together to strengthen it in the months ahead.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague also sent congratulations to Modi and said he would “look forward to forging an even closer partnership with India in the months ahead.” US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated India’s future prime minister Narendra Modi Friday after he led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to a landslide election victory. “Congrats to @ narendramodi and BJP,” Kerry tweeted. “Look forward to working w/you/growing shared prosperity/ security w/world’s largest democracy.”

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