Narendra Modi wins election in India to become next prime minister

By Daniel S Levine,

Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, claimed victory after elections in India on Friday and will be the country’s next prime minister. Modi is a controversial figure, but gained popular support for vowing to make reforms to help India’s struggling economy.

The Indian National Congress has already conceded defeat, although the official vote count isn’t expected until later today. “There is a lot for us to think about,” Rahul Gandhi, the party’s campaign chief, said after the election, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The Election Commission’s early results showed that the BJP won 280 of the 545 seats in the lower house of Parliament. The INC, which has dominated the country’s political system, only won 46 seats, its worst election ever.

Modi, 63, gained support among the current generation of Indians who have struggled to reach the middle class. “Till some time ago, it was said India's success story is over. Now, the time has come to rewrite India's success story,” BJP chief Rajnath Singh said during a news conference, notes CNN.

The U.S. once denied Modi a visa due to anti-Muslim violence in the Gujarat state, where Modi served as chief minister, in 2005. Over 1,000 people were killed in the violence and the State Department didn’t say what its response would be if Modi was elected. Still, the hope is that Modi will improve relations between the two countries.

“We don't talk about visa applications," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said before the election. "We're looking forward to working with the new Indian government when they're elected.”

“There are no enemies in politics and democracy, only competitors,” Modi told his supporters Friday, notes The Hindu. “That’s the beauty of democracy. The strength of democracy lies in taking everyone together. Despite a clear mandate we want to keep everyone together.”

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