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Voters show discontent with Gandhi ‘dynasty’

NEW DELHI, May 16, (Agencies): The family that has dominated Indian politics for most of the country’s postcolonial history has just been snubbed by voters like never before. In a campaign led by Rahul Gandhi — the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers — the Indian National Congress party suffered the most crushing defeat in its 128-year history Friday as the results of India’s general election were released.

The leaders of India’s defeated Congress party, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, admitted personal responsibility on Friday for the disastrous election results which came after 10 years in power. “We understand that victory and loss is part of democracy,” party president Sonia told reporters in New Delhi as preliminary figures showed the Congress heading for its worst ever performance. “We respect this decision. I take responsibility for this defeat,” she added, in remarks echoed by her 43-year-old son, who led national campaigning for the first time.

The leftist Congress has dominated Indian politics since independence, mostly with a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty at its head. The famous bloodline has provided three prime ministers. But Friday’s figures have already triggered speculation about their future after a lacklustre campaign by Rahul, a former management consultant whose political skills are widely doubted. “I would like to start by congratulating the new government.

They have been given a mandate by the people of this country. We have done pretty badly. As vice-president of the party I hold myself responsible,” Rahul said. The next prime minister will be Narendra Modi, who led the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to a solid victory, in part by seizing on the perception that Rahul Gandhi was little more than a crown prince awaiting his prize. Voters were furious over Congress’ inability to address corruption, unemployment and the sputtering economy. “We are accepting the people’s verdict in all humility,” Congress party spokesman Shakil Ahmed told The Associated Press. “Trends of the counting are certainly not in our favor.

The trends point out that the country has decided to vote against us.” The electoral drubbing is a massive comedown for the Gandhi family and a shift in India’s tradition-bound society.

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