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India's incoming PM Modi begins victory lap

© Photo: AFP

Latest update : 2014-05-17

Thousands of cheering supporters have welcomed India’s next prime minister on his arrival in the capital New Dehli after he led his party to a landslide 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 on Saturday. He is scheduled to meet leaders of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to discuss the formation of a new government.

His BJP wiped out the Congress party that has long dominated the country’s politics.

The victory parade comes 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 517 seats declared, the BJP had won 278 seats and led in four more.

This parliamentary majority will give the 63-year-old former tea-seller ample room to advance reforms started 23 years ago by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but which stalled in recent years.

But despite explosive pro-Modi celebrations, FRANCE 24’s correspondent Natacha Butler highlighted the fact that not all Indians are overjoyed.

“Modi says he’ll be a leader for all. But it’s interesting to note that of all the BJP members elected yesterday, none were Muslim. Many minorities will be looking to see what a Modi government will mean for them,” she said.

Celebrations and reassurances

Modi’s landslide, the most resounding election victory India has seen in 30 years, was welcomed with a rally on India’s stock markets and raucous celebrations at offices across the country of his party, where supporters danced, let off fireworks and handed out sweets.

Speaking Friday night to a sea of people dressed in the party’s official orange colours and chanting his name in his home state of Gujarat, Modi thanked the nation, and immediately addressed concerns his pro-Hindu leanings would side-line minorities.

“The age of divisive politics has ended, from today onwards the politics of uniting people will begin,” Modi said. “We want more strength for the wellbeing of the country ... I see a glorious and prosperous India.”

Controversy

Modi remains a controversial figure, especially because of his role in sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.

US President Barack Obama telephoned Modi on Friday to invite the once shunned Hindu nationalist leader to visit Washington. This overture comes after Washington denied Modi a visa in 2005 over the sectarian riots, when he had just become chief minister of the state.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)
 

Date created : 2014-05-17

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