Modi pointed out to resounding cheers from the crowd how this was the first time that a non-Congress party had got a majority on its own in a national election in India that was followed keenly around the world.
A host of global leaders from Britain, Japan, Israel, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia rang up or sent congratulatory messages to Modi, who is widely expected to have a more muscular foreign policy and even changes some of India's international equations. The stock market shot up on news of the imminent BJP victory even as India Inc looked to a "industry-friendly" Modi to lift a flagging economy and restore investor confidence in the world's third largest economy.
The Congress, India's oldest party which had ruled the country for a decade since 2004, faced its worst humiliation, raising question marks about the future of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has given India most of its prime ministers. Congress' de facto prime ministerial candidate Rahul Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great grandfather were all prime ministers, was humbled by Modi in a way that the Congress plummeted to its lowest ever two-digit tally in a national election.
It had won 206 seats in the last election in 2009. On the other hand, the BJP, which debuted as a party with just two seats in 1984 when the Congress won a record 414 seats, was poised to take its tally to nearly 280 seats, a comfortable majority on its own, without any of its allies. "It is the start of a new era in Indian politics," exclaimed Rajnath Singh, the BJP president whose audacious move to name Modi as the prime ministerial candidate of the party late last year upset the veterans but was wholeheartedly endorsed by the party rank and file. Even political pundits gasped at the sheer scale of the BJP's sweep that election officials said was poised to give it a comfortable majority in the 545-member Lok Sabha even without the aid of its old and new allies.
The Congress did not win a single seat in seven states and it was unlikely to win more than 10 seats in any state.
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Modi, who is still the Gujarat chief minister. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who won easily from Rae Bareli along with her son Rahul Gandhi (Amethi), took responsibility for the defeat but was criticized for not being gracious enough to congratulate Modi.
"The people's verdict is against us," Gandhi said. Congress strategist and former minister Jairam Ramesh summed up the mood in the country's grand old party by saying: "Our performance is worse than the worst case scenario." (IANS)