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Modi supporters erupt in joy at India poll landslide

An Indian supporter of BJP party/AFP

An Indian supporter of BJP party/AFP

AHMEDABAD, May 16 – Supporters of Narendra Modi danced, sang and fed each other sweets on Friday as celebrations erupted throughout India over his almost certain thumping victory in the country’s general elections.

Crowds roared “Hail Modi, hail Modi!” outside his party’s headquarters in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in the thriving state of Gujarat which the Hindu nationalist hardliner has steered as chief minister since 2001.

“I will tell my kids about this historic day!” said 27-year-old Tejas Patel, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Modi’s face outside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office.

The crowd danced and waved their hands in the air to drums and trumpets, as preliminary results and media projections showed the BJP on track for the first parliamentary majority by a single party in 30 years.

“This victory (by the BJP) represents a tectonic shift in the electoral landscape,” senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told India’s NDTV television network.

BJP worker Sushilbhai, who goes only by one name, said he started celebrating on the eve of the election results.

“We saw this day coming. My brothers and sisters were dancing together, shouting Modi’s name,” Sushilbhai said.

“The whole country is shouting his name. I feel so proud,” he added as he stuffed yellow sweets into his friends’ mouths in a traditional gesture of celebration.

The BJP was on course to crush the ruling Congress party after 10 years in power, as results showed Modi riding what local media dubbed a “tsunami” of support for the party’s promises of jobs and development.

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Modi himself, set to become prime minister, celebrated in low-key style, visiting his elderly mother in the Gujarat state capital of Gandhinagar. She fed sweets to the BJP leader and offered him a blessing as they sat outside on her porch, as children, well-wishers and media looked on.

In New Delhi, supporters gathered at BJP headquarters for carnival-style celebrations, with dancers in traditional costumes, and an elephant painted with the BJP’s lotus flower symbol on the street outside.

“We were called by a BJP leader yesterday who said that we will win and celebrate for Modi,” said Sonu, who only gave one name, walking on stilts and waving a BJP flag.

At a souvenir shop at BJP headquarters, Modi masks were selling fast along with Modi T-shirts and BJP flags, while ladoo sweets were being handed out to media and supporters.

Police blocked the roads leading to the headquarters, with the crowds of supporters expected to swell in the coming hours.

Counting at the end of the election, which was staggered over six weeks, showed the BJP on track to win the 272 seats needed for a parliamentary majority, while Congress was headed for its worst-ever defeat.

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