India's Modi declares historic victory, but fails to win 'big majority'

Modi, 73, is only the second prime minister after independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru to win three consecutive terms. (Photo/Reuters)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed victory for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), terming it a "historical feat" in the history of the South Asian country.

"I bow to the people’s verdict for this affection and assure them that we will continue the good work done in the last decade to keep fulfilling the aspirations of people," Modi wrote on X in his first remarks since the vote count began on Tuesday.

"I also salute all our workers for their hard work. Words will never do justice to their exceptional efforts,” he said.

According to the Indian Election Commission as of 1943 GMT, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party won 239 and was leading in two seats, while the opposition Indian National Congress won 96 and was leading in 3 seats in the 543-member lower house of parliament.

Telugu Desam - TDP, Janata Dal (United) - JD(U) and other small parties all part of BJP's NDA had won more than 50 seats , thus placing the alliance at majority in the Parliament.

Celebrations had already begun at the headquarters of Modi's BJP before the full announcement of results.

But the mood at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi was also one of jubilation.

"BJP has failed to win a big majority on its own," Congress lawmaker Rajeev Shukla told reporters. "It's a moral defeat for them."

The opposition alliance known by its initials I.N.D.I.A, led by the Indian National Congress (INC) and its leader Rahul Gandhi, mounted a formidable challenge but may fall short of disrupting Modi's grip on power.

For the first time in a decade, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could fail to secure an overall majority of its own, figures from the election commission projected, meaning it would need to rely on its alliance partners.

Three consecutive terms

Victory in elections for NDA means, Modi, 73, only the second prime minister after independence leader Jawaharlal Nehru to win three consecutive terms.

Modi began his re-election campaign by focusing on his achievements over the last 10 years but soon switched to mostly targeting Muslims and the Congress party by accusing it of favouring India's minority, which the opposition party denies.

Stocks slumped on speculation the reduced majority would hamper the BJP's ability to push through reforms.

Shares in the main listed unit of Adani Enterprises owned by key Modi ally Gautam Adani nosedived 25 percent, before rebounding slightly.

The opposition largely campaigned on affirmative action programmes and saving the constitution from what they call Modi's authoritarian rule, an allegation the BJP denied.

Modi's opponents have been hamstrung by what they say are politically motivated criminal cases aimed at hobbling challengers to the ruling BJP.

Surveys have said unemployment and inflation were the main concerns for voters in the majority-Hindu country of 1.4 billion people.

Modi's political opponents and international rights groups have long sounded the alarm about threats to India's democracy and the rights of minority groups.

US think tank Freedom House said this year that the BJP had "increasingly used government institutions to target political opponents".


Source: TRT