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Nation special report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated India’s premier Narendra Modi on his victory in the country’s national elections. “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,” the prime minister said on Twitter.

With around half the 600 million votes cast counted, Indian Election Commission’s data showed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 347 of India’s 543 elected lower house seats. Modi claimed victory as results were being counted and vowed an “inclusive” future, with his party headed for a landslide win to crush the Gandhi dynasty’s comeback hopes.

The BJP’s main rivals Congress were on just 49 seats, with Rahul Gandhi — the great-grandson, grandson and son of three premiers — in danger of a humiliating loss in the seat held by India’s once-mighty political dynasty for generations.

Ties with Pakistan

Modi’s election victory was on the plank of national security, a campaign that gained strength in February when he sent warplanes into Pakistan to hit a suspected militant camp after a bomb attack in occupied Kashmir led to death of 40 Indian police officers.

India’s move to send warplanes fanned the flames of nationalism and helped the BJP turn voters’ attention away from the flailing economy and onto matters of national security.

The airstrike “gave him the narrative he needed to counter all these allegations of non-performance, unemployment and rural distress. It reenergized him and enabled him to reclaim his image as a strong leader India needs at this juncture”, said political commentator Arti Jerath.

Last month, Prime Minister Imran had said there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if BJP wins the general election.

“Perhaps if the BJP — a right-wing party — wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” the prime minister had told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.

                             Indian elections – results at a glance

Party                           Wins                         2014               Change

BJP                             347                             336                 +11

Cong                          88                                60                    +28

BSP,SP                     17                                5                      +12

Others                        90                                147                 – 57

Modi’s comments

Narendra Modi, during an address to supporters at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, said that after the party’s stunning performance in the elections the “political pundits of India will have to change their 20th century mindset. This is the India of the 21st century,” he declared.

Narendra Modi declared that the Indian elections were not being contested by politicians but the people of India.

He congratulated his party for its astounding performance in the elections and thanked his voters for coming out to cast their ballots despite high temperatures. “Since the country got independence, so many elections took place, but the maximum voting took place in this election and that too in 40-42 degree temperature.”

Amit Shah, president of BJP’s Delhi chapter, says that Indian voters have served Congress with a “chastening defeat” in the Indian elections. He is addressing BJP supporters in Delhi.