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Modi claims victory as BJP poised to win

By MANOJ CHAURASIA | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-05-24 09:21

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he is presented with a garland by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders after the election results in New Delhi, India, May 23, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

The Indian PM promises an inclusive nation as he heads toward reelection

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory on Thursday in the general election and vowed an "inclusive" future, with his party headed for a landslide win.

With more than half of the 600 million votes cast counted, Election Commission data showed Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, leading in 301 of India's 543 elected lower house seats, Agence France-Presse reported.

During the last elections in 2014, the BJP bagged 282 seats.

"Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!" Modi tweeted on Thursday as the outcome of the election became clear.

Professor DM Diwakar, a prominent Indian political expert, said: "The BJP victory explains Modi was able to successfully convey his message of nationalism among the masses."

Offi cial data from India's Election Commission said the main opposition Congress party, headed by Rahul Gandhi, would wind up with 50 seats, AFP reported, only marginally improving its 2014 performance in which it won 44 seats.

The trend is in line with the exit polls which had predicted a landslide victory for the BJP-led ruling National Democratic Alliance, or NDA, although BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav had hinted in a media interview that his party might not get a majority this time.

Celebrations started early in the day when BJP appeared leading over its rivals in most constituencies, hardly leaving space to rivals to bridge the vote gap.

The setback for the opposition is such that even Congress chief Gandhi is trailing in Amethi, which has been his family's pocket borough for decades. Gandhi, though, is leading with a huge margin in Wayanad from where he is contesting this time.

"The NDA victory explains the masses have given rewards to PM Modi for all his hard works and honesty and rejected the opposition for its negative campaign," India's federal justice minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, told the media on Thursday.

Spectacular showing

Political experts are stunned at the successive spectacular BJP showings. Many experts who had expressed doubts over the exit polls, with most predicting a comfortable win for the BJP.

The victory seems like a summary rejection of Congress's framing of demonetization, unemployment and the Goods and Services Tax as the "Gabbar Sinbh Tax" troubling the common men, Diwakar said.

The victory didn't come easily. Modi had focused his attention on highlighting the issues which concerned the nation and the common men. Above all, nationalism and his attacks on the Congress party remained the core issues which he repeated at all 142 election rallies during the hectic 40-day-long election campaign in the hot and humid weather.

In addition, Modi kept bringing up new issues in every round of the seven-phased polling which attracted the attention of the masses. Modi built his campaign around more than a dozen issues which included Ram Temple, a 10-percent reservation of the upper castes, and a recent airstrike across the border with Pakistan.

Ultimately, Gandhi's criticisms of alleged Rafale fighter jets scam, describing his opposition alliance as "highly-adulterated", and his meditation in a cave at the prominent Kedarnath Hindu shrine didn't dent Modi's popularity.

According to an official report, Modi traveled by air over 150,000 kilometers across India in 40 days to meet the voters, even as he also held four road shows. Modi colleague and party chief Amit Shah addressed 161 election rallies and traveled 158,000 km by air while also holding 18 road shows.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily in India.

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