Opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with early election results on Friday showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the biggest victory the country has seen in 30 years.
India’s ruling Congress party conceded defeat Friday. Congress party spokesmen told reporters the party had accepted that the country decided to vote against them.
The alliance led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was winning the vote count in 325 parliamentary seats, far more than the majority of 272 required to rule. Even on its own, the BJP was ahead in 273 seats.
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-ever showing. The party has been hit by a series of high profile corruption scandals, high inflation and lagging economic growth.
India’s 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.
The Election Commission of India says a record 66 percent of the country’s 815 million registered voters cast their ballots during the national election. Voting began last month.
Controversy has swirled around the BJP prime ministerial candidate since 2002, when he led India’s Gujarat state. Hindu-Muslim rioting there killed more than 1,000 people. 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.