India’s incoming prime minister Narendra Modi has been greeted by hundreds of jubilant supporters as he arrived in New Delhi from his home state of Gujarat.
The day after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide election victory, Mr Modi was mobbed by hundreds of flag-waving supporters at the capital’s main airport before waving to hundreds more who lined the streets on his drive to the city centre.
At BJP headquarters, Mr Modi congratulated grass-roots campaigners who showered him with pink rose petals.
He also met other party leaders and was expected to start discussions about forming a cabinet.
BJP officials said Mr Modi would not formally take office until after Tuesday.
The win has given India its first parliamentary majority after 25 years of coalition governments, with BJP claiming six times more seats than the Congress party.
With almost all 543 seats declared by Saturday morning, the BJP looked set to win 282 seats, 10 more than the majority required to rule.
With its allied parties, BJP was heading for a comfortable tally of around 337, the clearest result since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son Rajiv to office.
During the campaign, Mr Modi was explicit about wanting to end the dominance of the Nehru-Gandhi family on Indian politics.
The Congress party’s tally has been reduced to just 44 seats, less than half its previous worst result.
Outgoing prime minister Manmohan Singh was magnanimous in his final address to the nation on Saturday, wishing the incoming government success.
In a televised message, Mr Singh said he was confident about the future of India.
“I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come,” he said.
In his home state of Gujarat, Mr Modi told supporters he was confident of the future.
“I want to make the 21st century India’s century. It will take 10 years, not very long,” he said.
“India is our mother. How can we watch our mother cry?”
In his speech, the prime minister-elect pledged to make good governance and development cornerstones of his administration.
“People used to believe that you couldn’t run an election on the basis of development, that to win an election you had to hand out scraps to people,” Mr Modi said.
“Modi will be PM with the BJP winning, that’s been decided, but I am thinking ahead.
“Those politicians who don’t believe in development, who ran away from development during the election, they too will accept development as an election platform in the coming days.”
‘Good days are coming’
Mr Modi has promised “good days are coming” in his first reaction to the historic victory by the BJP.
“India has won. Good days are coming,” Mr Modi wrote on Twitter shortly before he went to seek blessings from his mother.
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Mr Modi to congratulate him on his party’s thumping victory, Mr Singh’s office said in a tweet.
“Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh calls Shri Narendra Modi and congratulated him on his party’s victory in the Lok Sabha (parliamentary) elections.”
The leaders of the Congress party, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, have admitted personal responsibility for the disastrous results.
“We understand that victory and loss is part of democracy,” party president Sonia Gandhi told reporters in New Delhi.
“We respect this decision. I take responsibility for this defeat.”
Senior Congress leader and spokesman Rajeev Shukla told reporters the party was ready to sit in opposition.
“Modi promised the moon and stars to the people. People bought that dream.”
Leaders from around the world, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have also congratulated Mr Modi on his success.
Mr Abbott says he is looking forward to working with the new prime minister and has invited him to visit Australia as well as attend the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November.
‘Hail Modi, hail Modi’
Outside BJP party headquarters in New Delhi, jubilant supporters banged drums, lit firecrackers and waved flags as results showed Mr Modi ahead in both the seats he is contested in Gujarat and the holy city of Varanasi.
“This victory represents a tectonic shift in the electoral landscape,” said senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Crowds roared “Hail Modi, Hail Modi” outside BJP party headquarters in Ahmedabad, which is the main city in Gujarat state where Mr Modi has been chief minister since 2001.
Mr Modi celebrated in low-key style, visiting his elderly mother in the state capital of Gandhinagar.
She fed him sweets and offered him a blessing as they sat outside on her porch with children, well-wishers and the media looking on.
India’s stock market jumped more than 6 per cent to a record high of 25,000 points on news that Mr Modi was headed for a comprehensive election victory.
The benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange index, known as the Sensex, rose 6.15 per cent to 25,375.63 in morning trade with banking stocks leading the way.
Who is India’s new leader?
- Narendra Modi is a Hindu nationalist
- Chief Minister of the western state of Gujarat since 2001
- ‘Self-made’, starting as a tea-seller
- Praised for bringing prosperity and development to his home state of Gujarat
- Criticised over the 2002 Gujarat riots which saw around 1,000, mostly Muslim, people killed
- Nomination for main opposition BJP revealed ‘secret’ marriage, traditionally arranged when Modi was 17
“Markets are following indications that the BJP and its allies will have a thumping victory – this is crucial for their ability to push key reforms,” said Harendra Kumar, head of brokerage Elara Capital.
The rupee also surged 1.14 per cent to 58.62 against the US dollar. The currency has been strengthening in recent weeks on expectations that Mr Modi would win the marathon five-week election and introduce structural reforms to turn the economy around.
It has now risen 17.45 per cent since it sank to a record low of 68.85 last August with investors worried about a fiscal deficit crisis and waning confidence as the government struggled to boost growth in the face of global economic turmoil.
Markets have risen 5 per cent in the past week as heady, many say unrealistic, optimism has returned after low business investment and economic growth, rising food prices and corruption.
India’s central bank said it has contingency plans ready to deal with any excessive volatility in the markets from the election results.
Modi breaks the mould
Since being named as his party’s candidate last September, Mr Modi has flown 300,000 kilometres and addressed 457 rallies in a slick, presidential-style campaign that has broken the mould of Indian politics.
Analysts say Mr Modi has outclassed Mr Gandhi, 43, while promoting his pro-business record as chief minister of Gujarat.
Mr Singh has already said goodbye to his staff after a decade in office, which commentators say has been marked by mounting policy paralysis.
Mr Modi’s mantra of development has won over many voters who were initially sceptical about his Hindu-centric ideology and his role in sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002.
The riots resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims.
Mr Modi has denied any wrongdoing and a probe ordered by the Supreme Court found he had no case to answer.