As trends from across the country emerge, it is clear that Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India. With leads in 530 of the 543 seats available, the BJP and its allies were leading in nearly 313 seats, much more than the halfway mark.
What appears also clear by 11 am, within three hours after the counting begun, is that the BJP is headed for a historic victory and the Congress towards a catastrophic failure. The BJP appears sweeping Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, while Congress mascot Rahul Gandhi faces a tough battle in home constituency Amethi. Mr Gandhi is trailing behind his BJP opponent Smriti Irani in early counting rounds, while SP supremo Mulayam Singh just may lose in Azamgarh.
Not only has the BJP consolidated in its strongholds such as Gujarat and Rajasthan, it has emerged from the ashes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and blazed a new trail in unlikely states such as West Bengal and Assam. The BJP also was leading in one seat in Kerala – a state where the party had marginal presence.
With the stamp of Mr Modi writ all over the outcome, the Gujarat strongman has emerged as a pan-Indian leader, who has overcome barriers of geography, caste, class and demography to stitch together an alliance that catapulted the saffron party to an impressive victory. Early last year, when he took over the reins of the BJP campaign, it was gasping for survival, but what followed has perhaps changed the political landscape of India.
The process of government formation will kick in with the election commissioners meeting the president of India on 19th evening to present him the results of the 16th general elections. The BJP parliamentary party will elect him the leader soon after and the swearing in could be expected on 23rd or 24th of May.
Equally startling as the BJP victory is the comprehensive defeat of the Congress that has been at the head of the government for the last 10 years. There appeared hardly any state other than Kerala, where the party was expected to hold on to a respectable presence. Party heavyweights ranging from Kapil Sibal to Kamal Nath and new entrants such as IT czar Nandan Nilekani appeared beaten at the hustings.