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May 24, 2019

India brings Modi back

Top Story

May 24, 2019

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi scored a dramatic election victory on Thursday, putting his Hindu nationalist party on course to increase its majority on a mandate of business-friendly policies and a tough stance on national security.

His re-election reinforces a global trend of right-wing populists sweeping to victory, from the United States to Brazil and Italy, often after adopting harsh positions on protectionism, immigration and defence.

According to Indian Election Commission’s results, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance won 350 out of 542 seats up for grabs, up from the 282 it won in 2014 and more than the 272 seats needed for a majority in the lower house of parliament. That would give his party the first back-to-back majority for a single party since 1984.

United Progressive Alliance, an alliance of Congress and centre-left parties, managed to win 88 seats, while other parties managed to win 104 seats.

As results confirmed the victory, Modi thanked voters for their “faith placed in (BJP) alliance”. He also lauded BJP workers for their “determination, perseverance and hardwork”.

“Thank you, India! The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations,” he said.

“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!” he said.

In an apparent attack on BJP’s rival Congress party, Modi said that none of the candidates in the elections were able to “fool the people (of India) by wearing the veil of secularism”.

Modi, in his address to supporters at BJP headquarters in Delhi, insisted that he “might make mistakes, but won’t ever act maliciously”.

According to reports in Indian media, the oath-taking ceremony could take place by the middle of next week — May 28 is the likely date.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi conceded defeat in his home constituency of Amethi, saying that “I respect the decision and congratulate Smriti Irani ji.”

He declined to comment on the reasons behind Congress’ disastrous performance in the Indian elections and said: “People of India have clearly decided that Narendra Modi is going to be their prime minister and as an Indian I respect that.”

Indian Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi joined her brother in congratulating Modi and BJP workers, saying that the party “accepts people’s verdict”.

Modi will face demands to provide jobs for the tens of millions of young people coming on to the market in the next few years and to boost depressed farm incomes. But making good on his promise of unity will be difficult as the BJP campaign was often divisive, and India’s Muslim minority has expressed fears that policies aimed at pleasing the Hindu majority could imperil their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, Modi thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for extending good wishes to him.

Imran Khan, in a message posted on his official Twitter account earlier, said he was looking forward to working with Modi for "peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia".

"I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia," Imran Khan had said.

In response to the tweet by his Pakistani counterpart, Modi said, "Thank you PM. I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region," he added.

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