India’s ruling Congress Party is celebrating an ‘overwhelming’ election victory, and the prospect of four more years running the world’s biggest democracy. But, despite its landslide win, Congress is expected to fall short of an outright majority when all the votes are counted.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh claimed victory alongside Sonia Gandhi, the head of the famous political family, and the power inside Congress. “It will be our task to rise to the expectations of our people, to give them a government which is a caring government, which represents the best of Indian politics,” Singh said. Analysts welcomed a dream result for India – a poor Congress performance could have produced a weak coalition and turmoil in the markets. It is, though, a bitter pill for the opposition. Hindu nationalist leader Arun Jaitley agreed that Congress had won the nation’s backing. More than 700 million people were eligible to vote, forcing the election to be held over four weeks. The sheer size of the task facing the police and the army also forced India’s other great passion – cricket – to hold its Twenty20 competition in South Africa for security reasons.