News / Asia

Modi's Landslide Win in India Spurs Hope for Major Revival

An illumination in the shape of a lotus, party symbol of the winning Bharatiya Janata Party, illuminates the River Ganges in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 16, 2014.
An illumination in the shape of a lotus, party symbol of the winning Bharatiya Janata Party, illuminates the River Ganges in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, May 16, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
— The leader of India's Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi, claimed victory Friday as the right-wing Hindu nationalist party headed for the country's biggest election victory in the last 30 years.

With the ruling Congress Party conceding defeat, Modi is poised to take charge of the world’s largest democracy as the Bharatiya Janata Party returns to its leadership role after 10 years.

At a news conference, party chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul - who led campaigning - personally took responsibility for the loss.

The Congress party was hit by a series of high-profile corruption scandals, high inflation and lagging economic growth.


The five-week election wrapped up Monday, with the final polls closing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the eastern states of West Bengal and Bihar. Early results show the BJP winning the first one-party parliamentary majority in 30 years. That would mean it could create a government without forming a coalition with regional leaders.

Watch related video report from VOA's Steve Herman in New Delhi:
 
Historic Rout in India Comes With Opposition's Victoryi
X
Steve Herman
May 17, 2014 2:31 AM
India’s opposition party has won a resounding mandate in the country’s general election, capturing a majority, on its own, of more than 280 of the 543 seats in the lower house of parliament. The outcome after a six-week election marks a historic loss for India’s original political party. The world’s largest democracy will have a new prime minister for the first time in a decade, able to form a government without relying on regional coalition partners. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

In preliminary results, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Gandhi family's Congress party, which has ruled India for the last decade, was leading in just 67 seats, its worst showing ever.
 
BJP supporters celebrate

Outside the BJP headquarters here, the street resembled a carnival. Jubilant supporters danced, set off firecrackers and distributed sweets.
 
Modi, the future prime minister, tweeted, “India has won. Good times ahead.”
 

That was the centerpiece of the regional leader’s appeal to the country. Modi, who has headed western Gujarat state, led an unprecedented presidential-style campaign and won over voters with his mantra of development, strong leadership and cleaner government.
 
Rajnath Singh, BJP president, called the vote the beginning of a new era. He said all sections of society had supported the party’s positive agenda.   
 
“It is people’s mandate for change,” Singh said.  “Time(s) has now come to rewrite the Indian success story.”
 
The scale of the victory gives India a strong government with a clear parliamentary majority, ending the dependency of successive coalition governments on regional allies. Stock markets soared at the prospect of stability and a business-friendly administration.  
 
In a country restless for economic revival and better governance, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad says economic growth will be his party’s first priority. 
 
“I have rarely seen this overwhelming desire for change in the persona of Narendra Modi,” Prasad said. “… The first thing would be to restore people’s confidence in the economy by better governance.” 
 
A return to power

It will be the BJP’s second stint in office; the party was voted out after six years in office in 2004. But with a majority in parliament, and the Congress Party decimated, it comes to office with greater strength.
 
Political observers attribute BJP’s victory to two factors: the hope of better times, which Modi has generated, and a strong desire for change from Congress rule, which was tainted by corruption, rising prices and a weakening economy.
 
Voters believed Modi offered a change, said Sanjay Kumar, a professor at the Center for Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi.
 
“People had an image or kind of faith that this is a man who can do development, this is a man who has a vision, who is a strong ruler … but clearly the ground was laid by the misgovernance of the Congress in the last three years,” Kumar said. “People were not only unhappy, there was huge anger against the ruling UPA government.”
 
Modi’s critics remain uneasy about how the Hindu nationalist leader will govern a diverse nation with many religious minorities. As governor of Gujarat state, he was criticized for his handling of Hindu-Muslim rioting that killed more than 1,000 people in 2002. India’s Supreme Court cleared Modi of charges that he incited the violence.

The controversy appears to have faded for many voters. Modi has since cast himself as an able administrator and decisive leader who has energized the economy of Gujarat and holds the promise of doing the same for the rest of the country. 

Gandhi influence fades
 
There was huge anticipation on vote-counting day. People follow TV reports of election results as closely as they do a high-stakes cricket match.    
 
While celebrations continued nonstop for the BJP, the New Delhi headquarters of the Congress Party wore a desolate look. Congress Party leaders conceded defeat early. The “grand old party,” which has ruled India for more than 50 years, was not just voted out - it was decimated. That is likely to raise questions about its continued reliance for leadership on the Gandhi political dynasty.

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by: Narendra C. from: Texas
May 17, 2014 1:13 AM
The people of India also got tired of the corrupt ruling parties controlled by a foreign born lady who is also suspected of stashing loot and defense kick backs in offshore Swiss accounts. If USA wants India's business, they will have to line up and compete with the Euro, UK, Russia and China businesses lining up and respect Indian people and its leaders.


by: Bharat from: Bharatiya
May 16, 2014 4:58 PM
without any doubt, this is a New India... India of strength, of pride, of Hindus - we have our own beautiful culture, our own pride.
no more capitulation to degraded islamic terrorism... and one last thing - WE LOVE ISRAEL..!!!


by: Spectacle_Watcher from: USA
May 16, 2014 4:47 PM
I cannot believe that a writer of Indian origin and bearing a Hondu name repeatedly uses this misleading term "Hindu Nationalist." The writer blithely ignores the fact that the riots started because 58 Hindu pilgrims were roasted alive by a Muslim mob. This fake Gandhi clan and their cronies basically made it a crime for any Hindu to openly say that they are Hindus. This family was systematically pursuing policies and programs of divisiveness and anti-Hindu agenda. It came back to bite them, among many other things like endemic corruption and complete ineptitude. As for the Muslims, their numbers have swelled from 8% to almost 14% of Indian population. They have been willing participants in this insidious plan of the Congress party to create a rock solid vote bank.


by: Sunil from: Dallas TX
May 16, 2014 3:57 PM
Agree with Srinivas. It'd sad to hear the words "right wing" "nationalistic". It's either ignorance or just stupidity. Why should a party representing 85% of a nation's religion be considered nationalistic ? Is th Republican a right wing nationalistic party since it is based on "christian values" We had Muslim presidents in India while Barrack Obama was hounded for just a Muslim middle name. Why can't we have party that represents our religion ? Which country in th world has a ruling party that is from a minority religion ?


by: paul walter from: Philadelphia
May 16, 2014 3:54 PM
"Gandhi influence fades" this last para is misleading. The correct dynasty should be Nehru dynasty. Nehru's daughter took on the name Gandhi so that they could gain political mandate by using Gandhi's name. Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi is not at all related to this family. Indira Gandhi and subsequently her son Rajiv Gandhi followed by his Italian wife - Sonia Gandhi (may not be her real name either) and finally Rahul Gandhi are the Nehru dynasty.


by: spiris from: VA
May 16, 2014 9:43 AM
This will mirror the coming elections in America, after all the scandals and corruption of the Obama administration coupled with a stagnate economy, it's easy to see that Obama has failed America and the Constitution.

In Response

by: Sashi from: VA
May 16, 2014 3:36 PM
True! Hope for stronger more business friendly America! Tired of Obama.


by: Srinivas
May 16, 2014 8:33 AM
BJP "Hindu Nationalist party" and Modi a "Hindu Nationalist". It's very sad and feeling sorry for this article author for her lack of knowledge.It's even became more worst when this author is from India.


by: Karthik from: Boston
May 16, 2014 8:26 AM
"Bharatiya Janata" means "Indian People"


by: Michael from: New York
May 16, 2014 8:18 AM
what is the meaning of "Bharatiya Janata" (Party)?

In Response

by: Abhiram Alva from: Hyd
June 11, 2014 1:59 AM
Indian people's party

In Response

by: priyabrata Mukherjee from: Nikunjapur,W.B,India
May 16, 2014 9:11 AM
Bharatiya means INDIAN
Janata means PEOPLE... so its means INDIAN PEOPLE PARTY

In Response

by: Amit from: India
May 16, 2014 9:09 AM
Bharatiya means the one who belongs to the land of Bharat (Original name of India) so it means Indian

Janata means Public/ masses.

Indian Public/masses party.

In Response

by: Arthas from: India
May 16, 2014 8:36 AM
In Hindi, Bharat is the other name for "India" & Janata means "People". So, Bharatiya Janata Party, combined would mean "Indian People's Party"

In Response

by: Shailesh from: USA
May 16, 2014 8:25 AM
Janata=people, Bharat=India
Peoples party of India
Bhartiya= belonging to people of India


by: Benny Mukherjee from: India
May 16, 2014 8:04 AM
If Modi is a "Hindu Nationalist", then that make Sonia Gandhi a Christian anti-national and Salman Khurshid a Muslim anti-national. By that definition, all Republicans should be called Christian Nationalists and all middle-eastern prime ministers as Islamic dictators. But when it comes to that group, double standards come into play.

In Response

by: BillionVoices
May 17, 2014 2:19 AM
Well said. The western media won't learn. History of Hindus demonstrates the religious tolerance the people from Indian sub-continent have demonstrated for thousands of years. India has been a country of Hindus where all religions of the world flourished. While the West was killing each other on the name of religion, Hindus fostered world religions. Hundreds of thousands are killed in the middle east by the secularists. On any day, a Hindu Nationalist is a civilized, altruistic, cultured and tolerant human than a western secularist.

In Response

by: Sashi from: VA
May 16, 2014 3:35 PM
Very good reply!

In Response

by: Vivek Katti
May 16, 2014 2:54 PM
That was an EXCELLENT analogy!

In Response

by: maxwell9
May 16, 2014 8:34 AM
Amazing how media words each positive matter in to negative content...

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