Indian PM Narendra Modi has admitted defeat for his governing BJP in a key regional election in Bihar state.
The BJP was running against an alliance of parties linked to main opposition Congress party in the state assembly.
Narendra Modi won a convincing victory in last year’s national elections, but this poll was seen as a referendum on his economic program.
However, a spokesman for the Hindu-led nationalist party rejected suggestions the result for Bihar state assembly was a personal blow for Narendra Modi, saying the BJP “managed a creditable performance”.
Narendra Modi had been hoping a victory in Bihar would boost his party’s strength in India’s upper house of parliament, which made up of representatives of state legislatures and where he lacks a majority.
With votes still being counted, the anti-Modi alliance was ahead in 125 seats, compared with the BJP’s 79 seats, out of 238 where the trends were clear.
Bihar, in the north-west of India, is one of the country’s largest states, with a population of 100 million, and is also one of the poorest.
Indian PM-elect Narendra Modi has received an enthusiastic welcome at his BJP party’s headquarters in Delhi after securing the most decisive election victory in three decades.
Narendra Modi was cheered by supporters after a victory parade from the airport.
Manmohan Singh, whose Congress party was crushed in the poll, has tendered his resignation as prime minister.
Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist and chief minister of Gujarat, campaigned on promises to revive the economy.
Results show the BJP gained a majority in parliament and will be able to govern without coalition partners.
However, many Indians still have profound concerns over Narendra Modi because of claims he did little to stop communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which at least 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims.
narendra Modi has always denied the allegations and was never charged.
After arriving in Delhi from his home state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was greeted by flag-waving supporters. He stepped out of his car, flashing a victory sign.
Narendra Modi was cheered by supporters after a victory parade from Delhi airport
A brass band, drummers and bagpipers met him at the BJP headquarters, while bunting and balloons decorated the street.
Narendra Modi will go to Varanasi for a ceremony by the river Ganges later on Saturday.
With votes still being counted, the BJP has won more than the 272 seats needed for a parliamentary majority.
With its allies, the party could get more than 330 seats out of 543.
Speaking at the BJP headquarters, Narendra Modi said: “I want to bow, I want to give my thanks… to the people of India.”
He said Indian media had created “consciousness among voters” and a “great festival of Indian democracy”.
On Friday, Narendra Modi wrote in a widely-shared tweet: “India has won, good days are about to come.”
He also told supporters he would rule for all Indians.
“The age of divisive politics has ended – from today onwards the politics of uniting people will begin.”
World leaders, including President Barack Obama and UK PM David Cameron, have congratulated Narendra Modi on his victory.
India’s new leader has received invitations to Washington and London. Previously, the US denied him visas and the UK cut off all ties with him following the 2002 riots.
Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif commended the BJP’s “impressive victory” in the election.
The Congress party, which has dominated Indian politics since independence, is only expected to win 44 seats.
Congress has been mired in serious corruption scandals and its leadership has been considered ineffective in recent years, analysts say.
Accepting defeat, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said: “We humbly respect the verdict of the people.”
Manmohan Singh met the president to hand in his resignation.
In a televised farewell address earlier on Saturday, Manmohan Singh said the government had achieved a lot in the last 10 years.
“I wish the incoming government every success,” Manmohan Singh said.
India’s opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister, with counting trends showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the most resounding election victory the country has seen in thirty years.
The opposition Hindu nationalist BJP party has promised “good times ahead” as early results suggest it is on course for a landslide victory.
Narendra Modi’s landslide win was welcomed with a thundering rally on India’s stock markets and jubilant celebrations at offices across the country of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), where supporters danced, exploded fireworks and handed out sweets.
Although final results are not expected until later, the scale of the predicted victory is such that the ruling Congress party has admitted defeat.
India’s opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister
BJP leader Narendra Modi tweeted: “India has won. Good times ahead.”
This is the most resounding victory for a political party in India for 30 years, say correspondents.
Narendra Modi, chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, is seen as a no-nonsense, can-do leader who stands for development and muscular nationalism.
He campaigned on promises of a revival in economic growth.
But many Indians still have profound concerns over Narendra Modi because of claims he did little to stop the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, in which at least 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims – allegations he has always denied and over which he was never charged.
The election result will be a crushing blow to the Congress party, which is led by the Nehru-Gandhi family and has dominated Indian politics since independence.
It reflects voter anger with Congress, which has been mired in serious corruption scandals and whose leadership has been considered ineffective in recent years, analysts say.
India’s PM Manmohan Singh rang Narendra Modi to congratulate him on his victory.
Narendra Modi, 63, celebrated with a visit to his elderly mother in Gandhinagar, the state capital of Gujarat.
Latest election results showed the BJP is on course to win 278 seats, surpassing the 272 seats needed to secure a majority in the lower house of parliament.
With their allies, the party could achieve more than 300 seats.
Meanwhile, the Congress party – which has been in power for the past decade – is leading in fewer than 50 seats.
Accepting defeat, the Congress Party spokesman, Shakil Ahmed, said: “We are accepting the people’s verdict in all humility.
“Trends of the counting are certainly not in our favor. The trends point out that the country has decided to vote against us,” he was quoted by news agency AP as saying.
Even before the Congress party’s announcement, there were scenes of jubilation outside the BJP’s headquarters. Firecrackers exploded and people handed out sweets.
More than 500 million people voted in what is the world’s biggest exercise in democracy.
Voter turnout in the mammoth nine-phase general election was a record 66.38%, beating the previous 1984 poll record.
Controversial prime ministerial candidate of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narendra Modi has for the first time publicly admitted that he is married.
Narendra Modi, 63, made the declaration when he filed election nomination papers.
He married Jashodaben when he was 17 but the couple have lived apart.
Narendra Modi has always avoided questions on his personal life amid suggestions he wished to appear celibate for Hindu nationalist reasons.
Jashodaben is a retired school teacher and reports say she lives in a one-room house in a village in Gujarat.
Narendra Modi, who has been chief minister of the western state of Gujarat since 2001, is standing for parliament for the first time.
Narendra Modi has for the first time publicly admitted that he is married
In his nomination form for Vadodara constituency in Gujarat, Narendra Modi wrote the name “Jashodaben” in a mandatory column regarding his marital status.
In previous elections, including the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections, Narendra Modi left the column blank.
Critics have accused Narendra Modi of deserting his wife after he joined the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which prizes celibacy.
They say the fact that Narendra Modi has refused to acknowledge his wife for so long shows his poor attitude to women.
Reports say Narendra Modi’s decision to finally acknowledge her came after “strict legal advice to come clean” on his marriage.
In an interview to The Indian Express in February, Jashodaben said she lived on a monthly pension of 14,000 rupees ($232).
Jashodaben Chiman Modi said Narendra Modi had left her after three years, during which they spent some three months together, and that they had parted amicably.
“Narendra was married to Jashodaben Chiman Modi at a very young age by our parents, but it was only a formal ritual…” Narendra Modi’s older brother Som said in a statement issued by the party’s Gujarat wing on Thursday.
The BJP leader is seen as a dynamic and efficient leader who has made his state an economic powerhouse.
Narendra Modi also is accused of doing little to stop the 2002 religious riots when more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed – an allegation he has consistently denied.