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India polls: Modi faces mammoth task in meeting soaring expectations

Published on May 16, 2014 8:14 PM
Supporters wearing masks of Hindu nationalist politician Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), celebrate after learning of initial poll results in the northern Indian city of Allahabad on May 16, 2014. Mr Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with election results on Friday showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the biggest victory the country has seen in 30 years. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

GANDHINAGAR (REUTERS) - About a year ago, Mr Narendra Modi sat down with some of India's best and brightest to mount a "shock and awe" election campaign that a strategist likened to a one-sided US military operation against Saddam Hussein's forces in the Gulf.

From an unmarked office in Gandhinagar, the capital of Mr Modi's home state of Gujarat, 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, Mr 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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