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Victorious Modi Reaches Delhi

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After the landslide victory in Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi arrived in the national capital on Saturday (16 May) to a rousing welcome by thousands of enthusiastic BJP workers and supporters to whom he gave credit for the historic achievement.

About a year ago Narendra Modi had sat down with some of India's best and brightest to mount what one election strategist called a "shock and awe" campaign. From an unmarked office in Gandhinagar, the young men and women, some on sabbaticals from firms like JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank, worked on turning a fragmented parliamentary election involving 543 seats into a presidential-style referendum on candidate Modi.

In doing so, Modi cut loose from the traditional Delhi-based structure of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its apparatchiks and adopted the language of a youthful country eager for change, using everything from holograms to WhatsApp. The modern approach worked: just an hour into the counting of votes on Friday, it was clear that the 63-year-old Modi was heading for a stunning victory with the strongest mandate any Indian government has enjoyed for 30 years.
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On Saturday, the Prime Minister-elect waved victory sign to the cheering crowds of supporters wearing saffron caps and showing BJP flags as he undertook a roadshow from Indira Gandhi International Airport to the party headquarters at Ashoka Road, a distance of about 16 kms. He was received at the airport by a number of senior BJP leaders, including party chief Rajnath Singh.

Escorted by elite commandos, Modi was greeted by supporters at various places along the route from the airport to the party headquarters at Ashoka Road. BJP workers on motorcycles waving party flags were part of the roadshow.

India's Credit Rating
The fiscal and economic reforms taken by India's new government in the next two to three months will have "significant implications" on India's sovereign credit rating, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Friday.

S&P added the next government would need to regain "fiscal prudence in a sustainable way," such as by implementing a goods and services tax to help stabilise government revenues.

"What the next government says and does in the coming months is crucial to boosting confidence in the policy settings and the economy," S&P credit analyst Takahira Ogawa was quoted as saying in the statement.

"If confidence rises, investment and consumption in India could strengthen, after being held back by the uncertainty surrounding the election." S&P is the only of the three major credit agencies to have India with a "negative outlook" for its "BBB-minus" rating, meaning any downgrade would send the country to below investment grade.

Mody Thanks Supporters
On reaching the BJP headquarters, he briefly addressed the supporters, saying he was thankful to them for rekindling "new hope" through their hard work.

"As a person, Modi requests all of you, don't give credit for this victory to Modi. It is a result of hard work of lakhs of workers. This victory belongs to those four-five generations who have toiled hard since 1952," he said.

"The first right of credit for this victory goes to 125 crore Indians and second to those martyred since 1952. In the last 25 years, thousands of our workers were killed in states like Kerala and those who gave up their lives in Tamil Nadu," Modi said.

A sea of supporters wearing saffron scarfs and Modi face masks gathered at the IGI airport to greet their leader and became ecstatic as the Prime Minister-elect stepped out of Terminal 3.

It also brought the movement of other air passengers at a virtual halt as supporters thronged Modi's car while the sleuths huddled around it. As the leader left for the BJP headquarters at Ashoka road, he was felicitated at several points where the supporters had gathered in large numbers.

Local BJP leaders including seven BJP MPs from Delhi were also present at the airport to receive Modi.

For 18-year-old Dilip Kumar, a janitor by profession working at the airport, it was dream come true to see Modi at such a close distance.

"I voted for him in the election and I was very happy to have seen him from such a close distance," he said.

"We were are here to celebrate the victory of the BJP and Narendra Modi who registered a spectacular win," said artist R Narayan Swamy, who had gathered at the BJP office with his music band.

Modi's Mammoth Task
Modi, a Hindu nationalist, has long faced allegations that he looked the other way when Hindu mobs went on a rampage of revenge against Muslims in Gujarat after a train carrying Hindu pilgrims was torched in 2002.

He has denied the allegations and a Supreme Court ordered inquiry absolved him of responsibility.

Modi has refused calls for remorse for the lives lost, most of them from the sizeable Muslim minority of more than 150 million people. Instead he has donned the mantle of an economic moderniser, building on Gujarat's mercantile traditions.

"Development is the only agenda that can save the country," Modi said in a victory speech in Gujarat during which he also called for an end to divisive politics.

"Development is the solution to all problems, development is the cure for all diseases," he told thousands gathered there.

India's Guangdong
In recent years, the state Modi has governed since 2001 has been compared with Guangdong province, the spearhead of China’s economic revival.

Since Modi took control, Gujarat has led the nation in GDP growth. It accounts for 16 percent of industrial output and 22 percent of exports, despite having 5 percent of its population.

Under his stewardship, farmers and industry have been assured uninterrupted power, albeit at high rates, and bureaucratic controls slashed.

A central government-ordered study last month said it had the best land acquisition policies in place, among all of India's 29 states in terms of ease of doing business.

Land, by far, has been the single biggest hurdle around the country, holding up 90 percent of infrastructure projects.

Gujarat's highways are India's fastest, a far cry from the potholed roads in the northern belt, and its ports are among the busiest.

But repeating that success nationally presents significant challenges in a country with a complex federal structure, a bureaucracy more wedded to socialist controls than reform and a growing gap between rich and poor among its 1.2 billion people.

India must create 10 million jobs a year, four times the pace of the last 5 years, to absorb youth into the workforce.

And unlike China, India is not centralised. Modi will have a fight on his hands to gain full cooperation from many state governments, which he needs to implement his agenda nationwide.

Some have said the pace of development in Gujarat has caused environmental damage and threatened small communities, and that crony capitalism flourished under Modi's unquestioned rule.

Critics also say it lags behind other states in social indicators such as mortality rates.

But the criticisms have failed to stick.

"Modi has led from the front. None of this would have been possible, but for him," said Rajnath Singh, the president of the BJP and a close associate.