India elections: Carnival and dejection at party HQs

Image copyright AFP
Image caption BJP supporters began celebrating as soon as initial results emerged

Sanjoy Majumder reports from BJP HQ in Delhi

The scene at the BJP headquarters resembles a carnival. The entire building has been decorated with the party flag, giant posters of Narendra Modi have been placed outside and large television screens are displaying the vote count.

As early trends showed the BJP grabbing a lead, the cheers began. Brass bands struck up patriotic tunes, party supporters began dancing on the street outside and firecrackers went off at a frenetic pace.

Senior party leaders arrived and there was also unprecedented security - hundreds of policemen are in place and the entire road has been barricaded and closed to traffic.

As the scale of the BJP's victory became apparent, the atmosphere became more frenzied.

"This is a great day for India," said party member Shaina NC. "All credit to Narendra Modi."

BJP patriarch LK Advani arrived to a massive cheer and was persuaded to address the swelling ranks of supporters.

"India has spoken," he said, to resounding cheers. "They have spoken out against corruption."

But the man of the moment was the man who is to become India's 14th prime minister. Young men with "Modi for PM" emblazoned on their t-shirts danced, chanting his name. Others signed a huge banner with their hero's picture, congratulating him and even advising him on how to run the country.

And the street outside the party headquarters is already resembling a battlefield, strewn with the remains of firecrackers, the air thick with smoke.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Congress party workers held a Hindu ritual for the party - to no avail

Divya Arya reports from Congress HQ

The Congress office bears a deserted look and members of the media far outnumber the small number of supporters here.

The elaborate barricades looked wasted and even the policemen stationed outside can be seen idling and playing with their smart phones. Vishnu Singh, who has been on duty here since 2011, said: "It is never so quiet here, but in the last week things had begun to slow down."

Apart from a family conducting prayers for the Congress party's victory in the morning, a group of around 10 supporters were the only ones to turn up through the whole day. It was extremely quiet and one could even hear birds chirping.

In a possible indicator of the lacklustre performance of Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the lull was finally broken by a small group of Congress supporters carrying placards with slogans saying that the need of the hour was his sister Priyanka.

This may point to what ails India's oldest political party - an obsession with the Gandhi family.

Even among the policemen here, there is a general consensus in favour of Narendra Modi.

Deepender hails from Uttar Pradesh, the state with the highest number of seats in parliament. He said that "votes have been cast for Mr Modi's leadership, not so much for his party; it is his wave that has swept my state and the country."

Change in government was a foregone conclusion for him, what he was now hoping for, was for his life to change as well.

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