India\’s opposition leader Narendra Modi and his party won national elections in a landslide Friday, preliminary results showed, driving the long-dominant Congress party out of power in the most commanding victory India has seen in more than a quarter century.
Thanking supporters in his own constituency in his home state of Gujarat, Mr Modi said they had written a new chapter in the country\’s history.
Votes counted so far suggest the BJP is on course for the most resounding victory by any party for 30 years, trouncing the outgoing Congress Party.
The controversial leader campaigned on promises to revive the economy.
The prime minister-elect told his supporters the victory was no ordinary one.
"In the 60-year history of Indian independence, I have never seen this in the Indian media, what you have done in our country," Modi said, as supporters shouted "Modi, Modi, Modi".
BJP leader Narendra Modi tweeted: "India has won. Good times ahead."
He said he would rule for all Indians.
"Real government doesn\’t belong to a community. It belongs to the entire country," he said.
"I bow in front of the people of Vadodara for the love and each of the voters worked as Narendra Modi," he said.
"The real government will belong from Kashmir on top to Kanya Kumari [on India\’s southern tip] – that is a real government."
Several world leaders have congratulated Modi on his victory, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Modi accepted an invitation to visit the UK, Downing Street said. The UK government froze ties with him between 2002 and 2012 over the Gujarat riots.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif commended the BJP\’s "impressive victory" in the election.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called Modi to congratulate him on the victory, Singh\’s office said in a Tweet.
The 63-year-old Modi celebrated with a visit to his elderly mother in Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat.
Accepting defeat, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said: "We humbly respect the verdict of the people."
Latest election results showed the BJP is on course to win 282 seats, surpassing the 272 seats needed to secure a majority in the lower house of parliament.
With their allies, the party could achieve more than 330 seats.
The Congress party – which has been in power for the past decade – is expected to win in fewer than 50 seats.
More than 500 million people voted in what is the world\’s biggest exercise in democracy.
Voter turnout in the mammoth nine-phase general election was a record 66.38%, beating the previous 1984 poll record.
Speaking in the capital, New Delhi, the BJP leader Rajnath Singh said "The poor, the weak…This party belongs to everybody."
"This is the time when you can write about India\’s success story."
Modi, the 63-year-old son of a low-caste tea seller tainted by anti-Muslim violence in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, wrote on Twitter that "India has won. Good days are coming".
The stunning results exceeded all forecasts. Firecrackers exploded at BJP offices around the country and sweets were handed out in celebrations that began only a few hours after the first figures filtered out.
"This is the beginning of change, a people\’s revolution and the start of a new era," senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told AFP news agency at party headquarters in New Delhi.
The Congress party, that has run India for all but 13 years since independence, was set to crash to its worst ever result after a decade in power.
Shakil Ahmed, a Congress party spokesman, told the Associated Press on Friday that trends from the official vote counting were "certainly not" in his party\’s favour.
India\’s five-week election wrapped up Monday, with the final polls closing in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the eastern states of West Bengal and Bihar.
Controversy has swirled around the BJP prime ministerial candidate since 2002, when he led India\’s Gujarat state. Hindu-Muslim rioting there killed more than 1,000 people. India\’s Supreme Court cleared Modi of charges that he incited the violence.
The controversy appears to have faded for many voters. Modi has since cast himself as an able administrator and decisive leader who has energized the economy of Gujarat and holds the promise of doing the same for the rest of the country.
The election pits Modi\’s BJP against the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, the latest member of India\’s influential Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
India\’s new anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man\’s) Party, which secured a spectacular result in local polls in Delhi last autumn, is challenging the main parties.