India's opposition leader Narendra Modi and his party won national elections in a landslide today, driving the long-dominant Congress party out of power in the most commanding victory India has seen in more than a quarter century. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party captured a commanding lead for at least 272 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the majority needed to create a government without forming a coalition with smaller parties. With a note of triumph, Modi tweeted: "India has won!" as the results came out. Television channels aired footage of an emotional Modi meeting his mother and touching her feet, a traditional gesture when Hindus seek the blessings of an older relative.
The Congress party, which has been at the center of Indian politics for all but a decade of the country's history since its 1947 independence from Britain, conceded defeat. It's a high-profile loss for Rahul Gandhi, who is the the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers. There was a record turnout in the election, with 66.38% of India's 814 million eligible voters casting ballots during the six-week contest, making it the biggest election the world has ever seen. For comparison, USA Today points out that number of voters is greater than Europe's entire population of 740 million residents. What's next? If confirmed, Modi will take the reins on Wednesday; he has his eye on significant infrastructure-building projects designed to help the country better compete with China.