Published On: Sat, May 17th, 2014

Modi’s victory

Modi's victoryA hero’s welcome awaited Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday after the Hindu nationalist leader thundered to victory in India’s general election, trouncing the ruling Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in a seismic political shift that gives his party a mandate for sweeping economic reform.A brass band struck up early in the morning at the capital’s airport as crowds awaited the arrival of Modi from Gujarat, where the night before he had addressed a sea of jubilant supporters chanting his name.Modi’s landslide win for his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) closes off a chapter of fragile coalition governments, giving the former tea-seller ample room to advance reforms started 23 years ago by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but which have stalled in recent years.Unlike his predecessors, Modi will not have to deal with unruly partners as he implements reform. That could usher in profound economic changes, with some supporters imagining him as India’s answer to former British leader Margaret Thatcher.With more than six times the seats of his closest rival, Modi’s is the most decisive mandate for a leader since the 1984 assassination of Congress party prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son to office. Starting with the subsequent election in 1989, India has been governed by coalitions.”Tsunamo!”, declared the Asian Age newspaper on its front page, playing on the name ‘NaMo’ often used for Modi.”Modi juggernaut crushes Congress,” the Business Standard newspaper’s headline exclaimed after Friday’s results showed the party of the Gandhis and Prime Minister Singh suffered its worst-ever wipeout, winning just 44 of the 543 parliamentary seats at stake in the election that was staggered over five weeks.

Denisha Sahadevan

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Modi’s victory