Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory in the country’s general election on Thursday, as early vote counts showed his Bharatiya Janata Party on course for a significant win.
Early data from the nation’s Electoral Commission showed the BJP led in contests for 269 of the 542 seats in Parliament, while its rival party, the Indian National Congress, was winning just 56.
“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!” Modi wrote in announcing his victory on Twitter.
सबका साथ + सबका विकास + सबका विश्वास = विजयी भारत
Together we grow.
Together we prosper.
Together we will build a strong and inclusive India.
India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2019
More than 900 million people were eligible to vote in the mammoth six-week election, casting their votes on approximately 40 million electronic voting machines, according to the Associated Press.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated Modi on his election win, saying he was looking forward to “working with him for peace, progress and prosperity.”
I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 23, 2019
Although tensions between India and Pakistan in the disputed region of Kashmir dominated the build-up to the election, Modi’s victory could lead to a new dialogue between the two countries, according to Chatham House senior research fellow Dr. Gareth Price.
“Despite a large part of the BJP campaign being predicated on projecting strength against Pakistan, ironically over the next few months – terrorist attacks notwithstanding – one of the occasional windows of opportunity for talks with Pakistan has opened up,” Price told ABC News. “Political insecurity in one or both countries has undermined previous attempts at rapprochement. For now, at least, both governments have the legitimacy to engage with the other.”
Modi’s projection of a strong Hindu identity for India, as well as emphasis on economic growth, played a crucial role in his victory, Price said. But Price said this could end up being problematic.
“The BJP’s narrative clearly resonated with voters across northern India,” he told ABC News. “That is that India should be strong economically and militarily and proud of its Hindu-ness. This has implications for minorities, in particular Muslims. However, some of the policies mooted by the BJP for electoral purposes may come back to haunt it — in particular, the National Citizens Register, which, if followed through, could create millions of stateless people.”