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Celebrations erupt as Congress wins near landslide victory

CELEBRATIONS broke out the party headquarters of the Congress party in New Delhi here mid-day today as results of vote counting said the ruling party won an almost landslide victory in the general elections.

Hundreds of Congress supporters beat drums, danced and burst crackers outside the party headquarters and the nearby 10 Janpath residence of Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the party, praising her for the successful leadership.

The 76-year-old incumbent prime minister, Manmohan Singh, will be starting a second term as prime minister of India soon after the new Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament, is formed June 2.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rajnath Single conceded defeat, saying the results were not expected.

He attributed the defeat to the party's undecidedness in nominating its candidates for prime ministerial seats.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary A.B. Bardhan also admitted that some of the promises of the party had not been fulfilled and that's the reason for the setback of the party, particularly in its strongholds of Kerala and West Bengal.

India will therefore have a first majority government for almost two decades after the Congress won 250 seats, close to the 272 absolute majority required to form a government.

Latest TV projections said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance has won 250 out of all 543 seats counted. The BJP won 156, the Communist-led Third Force 76 and others 32.

The Congress will not have to seek support from the Communist Party of India-Marxist, as the so-called fourth force parties will supply enough seats to the Congress to obtain a majority, said analysts.

The TV projections were based on counting of electronic machines of the Election Commission.

The Congress has also won all the seven seats in New Delhi, the national capital.

The Congress and its allies have given a heavy blow to the BJP in the northern belt of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttarakhand and exceeded expectations in the populous and politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and Maharahstra, said the private Indo-Asian News Service.

The party's showing was also strong in West Bengal, Kerala, two Communist stronghold, and Tamil Nadu, which is mainly ruled by regional Tamil parties.


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