BJP's Narendra Modi elected new prime minister of India

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Official image of Narendra Modi in 2013.
Image: Narendra Modi.

Power in India is set to transfer to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the leader Narendra Modi following an election in the world's largest democracy. The ruling Congress Party conceded defeat yesterday and BJP are set to win a healthy majority of seats. The success for the Hindu nationalist party in the election tracks predicted results from exit polls.

Following the victory, Modi posted on social networking site Twitter "India has won. Good days are about to come". He then visited his mother to seek her blessing: he touched her feet, she put a vermillion mark on his head and gave him sweets. Thereafter, Modi travelled from his home in the Indian state of Gujarat to Delhi. In Delhi, a victory parade was held for Modi.

Conceding defeat, Sonia Gandhi from the Congress Party said: "We humbly respect the verdict of the people."

US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have both congratulated Modi and invited him to visit Washington and London respectively. Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, said BJP had won an "impressive victory".

Modi has been Gujarat chief minister since 2001. Modi has been controversial since a violent riot erupted in Gujarat in 2002 which led to the death of about a thousand people, primarily Muslims. Modi's critics allege he let the inter-religious violence happen without much effort to stop it. He was subsequently denied visas to travel to the United States, and the United Kingdom cut ties with him.

In 2012, a Special Investigations Team appointed by the Indian Supreme Court found no evidence for Modi's role in the violence. Following this, the British high commissioner in India decided to reconnect with Modi and invite him to visit London to address the House of Commons. The United States has warmed up to Modi again and in February he met with Nancy Powell, the US ambassador to India. During the elections, Modi attempted to reassure Muslims that he would protect all religious groups in India, telling The Times of India: "I've to run the government. Governments run on the basis of Constitution. I believe a government has one religion and that's India First".

The outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a statement: "As I have said on many occasions, my life and tenure in public office are an open book. I have always tried to do my best in serving this great nation of ours. In the last ten years, we as a country have seen many successes and achievements that we should be proud of. Today, India is a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago."