No stopping Tsunamo
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a stupendous victory for the second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country.
With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will surpass its 2014 performance, and likely cross 300 seats.
Until 6 p.m., the BJP had won 26 seats and was leading in 278 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in seven phases, demolishing the combined opposition with the Congress Party stuck with seven victories and a lead in 43 seats, according to the trends.
Modi himself was leading in Varanasi with a margin of over 4.3 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah was ahead in Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5.5 lakh votes.
"With all+ development for all+ everybody's confidence = victorious India," Modi tweeted. "Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again," he said
In the end, BJP's prediction in the final stages of campaigning of "ab ki baar 300 paar" appeared coming true, as Congress President Rahul Gandhi's campaign slogan of "chowkidar chor hai" found no resonance among voters. In almost all the states where BJP won, its vote share was more than 50 per cent.
If the trends hold firm till final results, the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance will likely end up with 344 seats, up from 336 in 2014. The BJP, which is now tantalisingly close to the 300 mark in Lok Sabha, had won 282 seats on its own in the last election.
The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.
Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave and the party's brilliant election management swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.
In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP had won two and was leading in 59 of the 80 seats at stake.
The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected but also rippled through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP was ahead in four seats, the same as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress.
After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Narendra Modi is the third prime minister of the country - and the first non-Congress one - who has been able to retain power for a second term with full majority in Lok Sabha.
The results were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: in Madhya Pradesh, BJP was ahead in 28 out of 29 seats with a vote percentage of nearly 60; in Rajasthan it was leading in all but one of 25 seats; similarly in Chattisgarh, BJP was ahead in nine compared to Congress' 2 seats.
The trends of the ruling party's leads were in sync with the exit polls, most of which predicted that the NDA would be on course to retain power for a second term.
In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009.
Buoyed by the Lok Sabha election results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah thanked the people of the country and congratulated the party workers for the landslide victory.