India election: Narendra Modi's BJP wins 303 parliament seats in final result

Dismal result for opposition Congress forces party to insist it is not changing leadership

TOPSHOT - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah gesture as they celebrate the victory in India's general elections, in New Delhi on May 23, 2019.  Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed victory on May 23 in India's general election and vowed an "inclusive" future, with his party headed for a landslide win to crush the Gandhi dynasty's comeback hopes. / AFP / Money SHARMA
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) increased its majority in India's election with its best-ever tally of 303 seats, final results confirmed on Friday.

The main opposition Congress party trailed the BJP with 52 out of the 543 elected seats in parliament, data from the Election Commission showed.

The BJP's seat tally went against pre-poll projections that the party would get fewer than the 282 seats it won in 2014. Mr Modi's party had appeared well on course to win a majority hours after counting of the more than 600 million votes cast began on Thursday.

About 67 per cent of India's 900 million voters cast ballots in the mammoth election held in seven stages over six weeks.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi conceded on Thursday evening as Mr Modi and other members of the BJP leadership celebrated with supporters at the party's headquarters in New Delhi.

"The voting numbers in India's election is the biggest event in the history of democratic world. The entire world has to recognise the democratic strength of India," Mr Modi, 68, told cheering crowds.

On Friday, the Mr Modi's cabinet met to plan a course for his second term. A considerable to-do list for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, which won a combined 352 seats, includes addressing lacklustre economic growth and reducing unemployment, notably among women, who have one of the lowest labour market participation rates in the world. Mr Modi also needs to fix the stricken agriculture sector on which 70 per cent of Indian households depend.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, joined a chorus of international well-wishers, with US President Donald Trump hailing Mr Modi's "BIG" win and even Pakistan's Imran Khan tweeting congratulations.

The Congress meanwhile was picking up the pieces after its second election debacle in a row, having failed to win a single seat in 13 states and five union territories. These included Rajasthan where it won state elections late last year. This BJP swept all 25 seats in the state.

The Congress on Friday was forced to deny media reports that Mr Gandhi, the great-grandson, grandson and son of three former premiers, had offered to resign from the party leadership.

The party took just one constituency in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state with 200 million people, where Mr Gandhi lost to his BJP rival in a seat considered a family stronghold.

The BJP juggernaut won 64 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh despite the challenge from an alliance formed specifically to counter Mr Modi's party.

Even in West Bengal, run by formidable Modi critic Mamata Banerjee, the BJP made major inroads, boosting its seat tally from two to 18.