Opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with counting trends showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the most resounding election victory the country has seen in thirty years.
Modi's landslide win was welcomed with a thundering rally on India's stock markets and jubilant celebrations at offices across the country of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where supporters danced, exploded fireworks and handed out sweets.
"Trends indicate it is a landslide," party president Rajnath Singh said in a message on Twitter.
Modi's media-savvy, modern campaign ran circles round his slow-footed rival, Rahul Gandhi, 43, from the Congress party.
The Congress, which led India to independence from Britain, was headed for its worst-ever result after two terms in office marred by corruption and a floundering economy.
The 63-year-old's promises of job creation and clean, efficient government resonated with many of the half a billion people who braved blistering summer heat to vote in the world's biggest election over the last five weeks.
Since being named as his party's candidate last September, Modi has flown 186,411 miles and addressed 457 rallies in a slick, presidential-style campaign that has broken the mold of Indian politics.
The alliance led by the BJP, and possibly the party alone, was headed for a majority in parliament, giving Modi the most decisive mandate for any leader since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son to office.
Unlike his predecessors, Modi will not have to deal with unruly coalition partners as he implements reform. That could usher in profound economic changes, and he will try to replicate his success in attracting investment and building infrastructure in Gujarat, the state he has governed for 12 years.
But with India's economy suffering its worst slowdown since the 1980s and battling high inflation, it will not be an easy task to meet the hopes of millions of Indians who have bought into the idea that Modi will quickly push their country onto the top table of global economic powers.
DIVYAKANT SOLANKI / EPA
Supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) dance and distribute candy at the state headquarters in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, India, on Friday after the opposition won a landslide victory.
First published May 15 2014, 9:01 PM