By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 23 May 2019
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide victory in the world’s largest election, in which 600 million people participated to cast their franchise.
The BJP secured a comfortable win in the lower house of the Indian Parliament with more than the 272 seats required to form a government. “India wins yet again. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India,” Modi wrote on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
BJP won with a clear majority on its own of 294 seats, which is better than the 282 seats it had won in the 2014 general elections.
Modi thanked the nation in another tweet, and praised party workers for their “determination, perseverance and hard work.”
The BJP’s commanding lead on Thursday saw India’s stock market soaring in anticipation of another five-year term for the pro-business Hindu nationalist leader.
Modi, who fought from Varanasi, won with a margin of 4.79 lakh votes against rival Congress candidate Ajay Rai.
In a shocker, Congress President Rahul Gandhi lost his familial bastion of Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani with a margin of about 30,000 votes. Amethi has been considered a pocket borough of Gandhi’s family, and Congress has not been defeated here in the last three decades, except in 1998.
Rahul Gandhi lost despite Congress star campaigner and his younger sister Priyanka Gandhi throwing her full might behind him in Amethi. However, Rahul Gandhi did win from the Wayanad constituency in Kerala, a move seen as a backup in case he lost their stronghold seat.
Conceding defeat in the general elections, Rahul Gandhi says Congress will continue to fight its ideological battle with BJP unitedly and asks party workers not to lose heart.
Modi, 68, first swept to power five years ago on a promise of “Achhe din aane waale hain” (Good days are coming) by eliminating corruption, creating jobs, 100 smart cities, e-governance, etc, for the more than 1.3 billion of its people, but all its promises remain unfulfilled.
In this just-concluded election, Modi campaigned with a message of nationalist pride, and presented himself as a strong candidate for national security after carrying out a “surgical strike” in Pakistan to avenge the killing of 40 police by Pakistan based-terrorists.
Modi’s win is seen as a victory for Hindu nationalism which seeks to jettison the secularism enshrined in the constitution of India. More than 80% of the people in India are Hindus, while Muslims form the second highest group, followed by Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and others.
Russian President Putin was among the first world leaders to congratulate Modi on his historic win. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were among others who congratulated him early on.