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As so often in the past, India’s electorate has sprung a surprise. The count on 16 May gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its presidential candidate, 62 year-old Narendra Modi, a convincing victory in the elections to India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha. On a 66.38% turnout, the BJP won a majority of the seats – the first party to do so since 1984. Author and academic Sunil Khilnani described the outcome as “a democratic asteroid.” Meanwhile, the ruling Indian National Congress and its allies in the United Progressive Alliance have suffered a humiliating defeat. Some are now declaring the end of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as a political force. Historically, the controversy over Modi's role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where he has been chief minister, has led Western governments to avoid dealing directly with him. An estimated 2000 Muslims died in those riots at the hands of Hindu mobs. But this situation is changing rapidly. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, congratulated Modi on his election victory, inviting him to visit the UK.


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