India's Modi claims third election victory as alliance heads for narrow majority

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MUMBAI: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory for a third term on Tuesday (Jun 4), hailing it as a "historical feat" in the country's history. 

"People have placed their faith in NDA (National Democratic Alliance) for a third consecutive time", Modi wrote on social media platform X.

Vote counting, which neared completion on Tuesday night, showed Modi's alliance winning albeit with a surprisingly narrow majority. 

His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was falling short of a majority of its own in the 543-member parliament. Having to depend on allies to form the government could introduce some uncertainty into policymaking after a decade in which Modi has ruled with an authoritative hold.

The Hindu nationalist BJP won a majority on its own when it won power in 2014, ending India's era of unstable coalition governments, and repeated the feat in 2019.

Data showed BJP accounting for around 240 of the seats in which the NDA was leading, compared with the 303 it won in 2019. 

"The NDA will form the government for the third time. PM Modi will be sworn in for the third time. Congress will sit in opposition for the third time," BJP spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said earlier, referring to the main opposition Congress party.

The opposition INDIA alliance led by Rahul Gandhi's centrist Congress party was leading in over 230 seats, higher than expected. Congress alone was leading in nearly 100 seats, almost double the 52 it won in 2019 - a surprise jump that is expected to boost Gandhi's standing.

"The country has unanimously and clearly stated, we do not want Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to be involved in the running of this country, we do not like the way they have run this country," Gandhi told reporters, referring to Modi's powerful number two, Home Minister Shah. "That is a huge message."

Gandhi said Congress would hold talks with its allies on Wednesday and decide on the future course of action, when asked if the opposition would try to form a government.

The seven-phase poll began on Apr 19 and concluded on Jun 1, with more than 640 million votes cast...

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