India election results

Businesses cheer Modi win as markets hit record highs

Congress workers performing a special prayer for better election results at the party headquarters in New Delhi yesterday. The party was left in a state of shock as it did only marginally better than in 2014, when it was reduced to 44 of 543 seats. I
Congress workers performing a special prayer for better election results at the party headquarters in New Delhi yesterday. The party was left in a state of shock as it did only marginally better than in 2014, when it was reduced to 44 of 543 seats. It is currently on track to win 49 seats.PHOTO: REUTERS
An Indian official inspecting an electronic voting machine during the ballot counting process at a booth in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power on a wave of popularity, with his Bharatiya Janata Party p
An Indian official inspecting an electronic voting machine during the ballot counting process at a booth in the Indian city of Mumbai yesterday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to power on a wave of popularity, with his Bharatiya Janata Party performing even better at these elections than in 2014.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Stability good for economy, they say, amid expectations that new govt will carry on reform agenda

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's landslide win was welcomed by business houses and small traders, while India's benchmark Sensex and the country's other major stock index, the Nifty, surged to record highs on expectations that the new government will continue with its reform agenda.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), an association of business organisations, said stability and continuity would be good for the nation.

"There is an urgent need to bring investments on track and boost consumption to better GDP (gross domestic product) growth from the current level of around 7 per cent, which will help in generating more jobs and taking care of the rural distress," FICCI president Sandip Somany said in a statement.

Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, also anticipated that a new term for Mr Modi would be good for the economy, noting: "The massive and decisive win unleashes a new wave of growth. Industry is very excited about this magnificent victory."

Mr Modi returned to power on a wave of popularity, with his Bha-ratiya Janata Party (BJP) performing even better at these elections than in 2014, when it won 282 seats and became the first single party to win a majority in three decades.

If there was any surprise, it was at the wide margin of victory. The BJP was set to win 302 seats in the Lower House of Parliament.

"No doubt the entire elections were hinging on his individual charisma. Nobody was looking at the local candidate in these elections, it was all about whether you were for or against Modi," said Mr Ankur Garg, a Delhi-based chartered accountant. "I don't know if this (brute majority) is a good or bad thing. But I hope they learn from past mistakes."

 
 
 
 

Mr Modi faced criticism in his first term over decisions like the demonetisation of high-value currency notes, which sucked cash out of a cash-reliant system, leading to job losses for migrant workers and deepening farm distress.

But that was then. Yesterday, many celebrated the return of Mr Modi, who is seen by his supporters as a decisive and strong leader.

"I feel very good that he has won. I voted for Modi,'' said Mr Ravinder Singh, who runs a taxi business. "I voted for Modi because he is a strong leader. I want the Aam Aadmi in power in the state and Mr Modi in the centre (federal power).''

The election results left the rival Congress party in a state of shock, even as its president Rahul Gandhi gracefully accepted defeat.

The glum mood was unmistakable within the party, which did only marginally better than in 2014, when it was reduced to 44 of 543 seats. It is currently on track to win 52 seats.

"Congress party is feeling dejected and the trends are not in line with the expectations of the party. I would not jump to conclusions till complete counting has taken place," Congress spokesman Jaiveer Shergill told reporters.

"If they (trends) hold, then Congress needs to introspect as to why its campaign failed to resonate with the people of the country."

Congress politician Shashi Tharoor, who was set for victory in his constituency of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, called it a "bittersweet emotion".

"As my lead nears 50,000, with 72 per cent counted, I feel like a batsman who has scored a century while his team has lost. It is a bittersweet emotion I will take some time to reflect on," he tweeted, using a cricket analogy.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2019, with the headline 'Businesses cheer Modi win as markets hit record highs'. Print Edition | Subscribe