How legitimate are elections in India

Elections: Hindu nationalists win election in India

In contrast, the Hindu nationalists of the BJP and their allies came up with an absolute majority in the lower house, as the electoral commission announced on Friday. The alliance secured at least 288 of the 543 seats. Many of the 1.2 billion Indians are hoping for more growth, development and new jobs from the new leadership. The turnout was 66 percent, higher than ever before.

Since initially not all constituencies were counted, it remained unclear whether the BJP of the business-friendly top candidate Narendra Modi could govern without a partner. No party had managed this for 30 years. In either case, Modi will become the next prime minister of nuclear power. After the election victory, the charismatic politician said he would lead India into a new future. "Any second now I will be there for the country."

The vote is a resounding slap in the face for the Congress Party, which had steered the country's fortunes for most of the time since independence in 1947. Now, according to the electoral commission, the venerable party could only win around 44 constituencies - that would not even be a quarter of the previous seats. Many voters blame them for rampant corruption, rising food prices and high unemployment.

In total, more than half a billion Indians had voted in the past few weeks, and 815 million were eligible to vote. It was the greatest choice in human history.

The result shows the desire of many Indians for better economic and living conditions, say analysts. As head of government in the state of Gujarat, Modi had streamlined the administration and established large companies. During the election campaign he presented himself as a doer who can reform the country, build roads and power lines and attract financially strong investors into the country.

However, human rights activists also accuse Modi of political responsibility for a massacre of more than 1,000 Muslims in his state of Gujarat in 2002. At that time, Hindu mobs had roamed Muslim neighborhoods for weeks, murdering and pillaging, without the police taking any effective action. Modi now promised that he would take care of everyone as head of state. "I want to assure everyone that we will take everyone on the trip."

Many Christians and Muslims fear that the victory of the Hindu nationalists will result in greater marginalization of religious minorities. "The Hindu nationalist currents have been threatening religious freedom in the country for many years and in the past have repeatedly led to violent or even pogrom-like attacks on Muslims and Christians," said Bettina Leibfritz, India consultant for the International Catholic Missionary Organization, missio. The diversity and pluralism of the country are in danger.

BJP founder and party leader L.K. Advani described the vote as a "historic result". "It shows that the mood in the country is turning against corruption and against dynastic politics." By this he meant Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi, who led the now tumbling Congress in the election campaign.

Both took responsibility for the defeat without announcing any consequences. "There is a lot to think about," said Rahul Gandhi. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Modi on his election victory before the end of the vote count.

In front of the BJP party headquarters in New Delhi, people drummed, sang and danced nonstop all day long. "Modes, modes," they called. Circus performers walked around on stilts while other party friends set off fireworks. Cooks had prepared 2.5 tons of laddus, spherical desserts that are traditionally eaten at celebrations. People put them in each other's mouths - a ritual in India to congratulate one another.

The Indian stock markets celebrated the election victory of the opposition. The stock exchange leading index Sensex rose after lush price gains in the previous days on Friday by another 0.9 percent to 24,121 points. According to Bernstein analyst Neil Beveridge, capital markets are celebrating because Modi is seen as a reformer who can reinvigorate investment in India and attract fresh foreign capital.

Overall, the vote had dragged on for five weeks so that election workers could organize the gigantic election and security forces could guard the polling stations. There were 8,251 candidates, including 668 women and 5 transsexuals. (dpa)

Page of the electoral commission

Press Information Bureau election site

Election committee page with results

Election program of the BJP

Congress party's election manifesto