Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a super-sized victory for a second term in office. The party was all set to breach the 300-seat mark on its own.
In his victory speech, Modi he promised to devote "every moment of my life and every fibre of my body" to the welfare of the nation. He also vowed that he will never do anything with ill-intention, nor will he do anything to enrich himself.
"Whenever you judge me, judge me on these three parameters. If I fall short on these, curse me. But I assure my countrymen that what I have said in public I will do my best to fulfil," he said.
Striking a conciliatory political tone, he also reached out to his rivals, urging everyone to put the rancour of the bitter and often nasty campaign behind them. What's past is past, he said.
"We have to move ahead. We have to take everyone with us, even our opponents. We have to work for the benefit of the country," he said. "You have filled this fakir’s bag with a lot of hope. All your hopes, dreams, ambitions are dependent on it," he said.
Launching an attack on the Opposition parties, Modi said, "In this election, no party could deceive India in the veil of secularism".
Until 9 p.m., the BJP had won 115 seats and was leading in 188 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls in seven phases in April and May. This has put it on course to likely winning 303 seats, far better than the 282 it won in 2014. With the support of allies in the National Democratic Alliance, the coalition could have some 344 seats.
The victory margin left the combined opposition in the dust, with the Congress Party stuck at 27 confirmed victories and a lead in 24 seats, according to the partial results.
Modi easily won his seat in Varanasi with a margin of over 4.5 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah took Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5.5 lakh votes.
"With all+ development for all+ everybody's confidence = victorious India," Modi tweeted.
"Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again," he said.
Modi and Shah arrived at the party headquarters in New Delhi to a rapturous welcome by supporters. Modi waved victory signs with both arms in the air as rose petals were showered on the duo, the two most powerful men in the country.
He then proceeded to garland the statues of BJP ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Minutes later, a gigantic garland in BJP colours of saffron and green was held around Modi by other dignitaries.
In almost all the states where BJP won, its vote share was more than 50 per cent.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi lost Amethi to Union Minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani but won the Wayanad seat in Kerala.
The results have raised questions about Gandhi's leadership and his party's future. At a press conference, Gandhi refused to address that issue, saying the party will hold a meeting on Friday to discuss the future.
"The people of India have decided that Narendra Modi will be the PM again and I fully respect it," Gandhi told reporters. He also congratulated Modi and BJP, adding that today is not the day to into the cause of the defeat but to respect the will of the people.
The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.
In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP is expected to win 62 of the 80 seats at stake.
Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is far better than the 30-40 seats many exit polls had forecast.
The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected but also in West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP is expected to win four seats, while the Telangana Rashtra Samiti will get nine.
However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress.
After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Modi is the third prime minister of the country _ and the first non-Congress one -- who has been able to retain power for a second term with full majority in Lok Sabha.
The results were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: it swept all but one of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 24 out of 25 in Rajasthan and nine out of 11 in Chattisgarh. Similar was the story in Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Delhi and notably Karnataka, where it is expected to win 25 out of 28 seats.
Among the big-name casualties were Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge who lost his Kalburgi seat in Karnataka and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress won not a single seat in 13 states.
The BJP also made huge gains in Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana
In Odisha, the BJP was ahead in eight of the 21 seats, up from one last time. In West Bengal, it was expected to win 18 seats, up from two in 2014, all at the expense of the Left. In Telangana, it was set to win four.