India opposition wins landslide, early tally shows

NEW DELHI (AP) — Opposition leader Narendra Modi won India’s election by a landslide Friday, according to preliminary results that showed his party easily driving out the long-dominant Congress party in the most commanding election victory India has seen in more than a quarter century.

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party now has a commanding lead for 272 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the majority needed to create an independent government without forming a coalition with smaller parties.

The full results are expected later in the day but it’s unlikely that Modi’s party would see a significant reversal.

With a note of triumph, Modi tweeted: ‘India has won!’ as the results came out Friday.

The Congress party, which has been at the center of Indian politics for most of the country’s history since independence from Britain, conceded defeat several hours into the vote counting.

“We are accepting the people’s verdict in all humility,” party spokesman Shakil Ahmed told The Associated Press. “Trends of the counting are certainly not in our favor. The trends point out that the country has decided to vote against us.”

At BJP headquarters in New Delhi, workers were handing out sweets, setting off firecrackers and dancing outside in the streets. BJP spokeswoman Nirmala Seetharaman said the results were even better than expected.

“That certainly is good news, which we will savor with great delight,” she said. “It means that people of India found the (connection) with Narendra Modi.”

There was a record turnout in the election, with 66.38 percent of India’s 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest, which began April 7 and was held in stages across the country. Turnout in the 2009 general election was 58.13 percent.

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