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After huge win, next Indian PM begins victory lap

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Published : 2014-05-17 16:14
Updated : 2014-05-17 16:14

Thousands of cheering supporters welcomed India's next prime minister on his arrival in the capital Saturday after leading his party to a staggering victory in national elections. 

   Standing on the footboard of his SUV, Narendra Modi flashed a victory sign as he drove past jubilant supporters outside the New Delhi airport, heading toward the headquarters of his Bharatiya Janata Party to discuss the formation of a new government. 

   A new government is likely to be in place by next week, but no date has so far been set, said BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar. 

   The party offices in the heart of the capital were festooned with garlands made of marigold flowers and multicolored balloons. Supporters blew conch shells, which traditionally mark the start of most Hindu rituals. As he walked toward the office, Modi was showered with rose petals.

   "This victory has created a new confidence among people,'' Modi said to cheering crowds. "Hundreds of thousands of BJP workers deserve credit for what we have achieved."

   Modi and his BJP wiped out the Congress party that dominated Indian politics for all but a decade since the country gained freedom from British rule in 1947.

   The victory parade came a day after the party crossed the 272-seat majority needed to create a government without forming a coalition with smaller parties. By Saturday morning, of the 521 seats declared, the BJP had won 279 seats and led in three more. The Congress won 43 seats and led in one in the 543-strong Lok Sabha, or lower house of Indian Parliament.

   The last time any single party won a majority in India was in 1984, when the Congress party swept more than 400 seats following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

   But 30 years later, India is now in the midst of rapid socio-economic change with 13 million young people entering the job market each year but not enough jobs being created in an economy that has slowed down to below 5 percent in the last two years. For these voters, the priorities are jobs and development, which Modi put at the forefront of his campaign. (AP)

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