India's BJP scores a historic win

The BBC's Andrew North travelled to Narenda Modi's home state of Gujarat

India's main opposition BJP has risen like a phoenix from the depths of despair.

As the leads poured in on Friday morning, it was clear that the party was steaming ahead to India's biggest election victory in 30 years. This, after two losing two elections in a row - the party was able to mop up only 116 seats in 2009.

Today, the BJP on its own is on course to win more than the 272 which it needs to gain a simple majority, and its 28-party coalition is leading the vote count in over 300 seats.

The scale of victory is truly gigantic in India's fractured polity where no party has managed to get a simple majority since Congress in 1984 won 415 seats riding on a sympathy wave after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

The results are a thumping endorsement for the BJP's charismatic and controversial prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who made the election a presidential-style referendum on his reputation as a no-nonsense, can-do leader who stood for development and muscular nationalism.

On the last day of the campaign, I asked a bunch of BJP leaders on the flight back from Varanasi how many seats they expected to win. Most said it would be 240-250 seats.

Clearly the margin, as commentator Swapan Dasgupta says, is "beyond the party's wildest expectations".

"This is Mr Modi's victory. A man who was vilified, pilloried and cast as an ogre of India by the English-speaking elite has emerged as the hope of India," he says.

For the Congress - which is looking at its worst-ever performance - the results are an indictment of its inability to control inflation and corruption, a drift in governance and an inability to groom a new generation of young leaders around the country. And the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty is no longer the draw it used to be in today's restless and aspirational India.

Soutik Biswas Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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