India PM-elect Modi to make triumphant Delhi entrance

India PM-elect Modi to make triumphant Delhi entrance

NEW DELHI - Prime minister-elect Narendra Modi headed to Delhi Saturday to bask in the glory of an election landslide for his Hindu nationalists, promising to improve the lives of all Indians in spite of his polarising image.

As world leaders congratulated the abrasive right-winger on his crushing victory over the leftist Congress party, Modi flew out of western Gujarat state that he has run since 2001 to prepare for a five-year term as prime minister.

The former tea-boy, whose humble background is a world away from that of the prevailing Delhi elite, is expected to be greeted by thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters when he flies into the capital around 11:00am (0530 GMT).

Later he is also expected to pay a visit to his constituency in the holy city of Varanasi where he will offer prayers at sundown on the banks of the river Ganges, after securing India's biggest electoral triumph in 30 years.

The 63-year-old, who has never held office at national level, pledged on Friday to fulfil the dreams of all of India's 1.2 billion people in an effort to allay fears that still linger among Muslims who remember communal riots in Gujarat in 2002.

"I want to take all of you with me to take this country forward... it is my responsibility to take all of you with me to run this country," Modi said in what was effectively a farewell speech to Gujarat after a 13-year stint as its chief minister.

Reflecting his long-running theme that the world's second most populous country must make itself a force to be reckoned with, Modi also pledged "to make the 21st century India's century".

Modi is expected to be sworn in next week and then turn the country sharply to the right after a decade of rule by the centre-left Congress party, which presided over a slowdown in growth and a series of corruption scandals.

He made good governance and development the main focus of his campaign, deriding his Congress rival Rahul Gandhi as a "princeling" who had little concept of the aspirations of the 551 million people who voted in the marathon six-week contest.

Rahul, whose mother led Congress to victory in 2004, fought a lacklustre campaign that has cast doubt on his future and even his party's survival now the Gandhi family appears to have lost its magic.

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