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Modi gets hero's welcome in New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Hundreds of Indians thronged the leafy streets of New Delhi on Saturday to greet Narendra Modi's triumphant march into the capital after he decimated the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the ruling Congress party in the biggest election victory the country has seen in 30 years.

Modi leaned far out of his car, waving a victory sign to jubilant supporters, in a drive from the airport to the headquarters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the center of town.

A Hindu nationalist who critics fear will be divisive and autocratic, Modi toned down religious issues in his pitch to India's 815 million voters and won the world's biggest ever election with promises of economic development for all.

The three-times chief minister of the western state of Gujarat is an outsider to Delhi's power circle. The low-caste son of a tea stall-owner, his rise to power signals the end of an era dominated by the descendants of India's first prime minister, independence hero Jawaharlal Nehru.

"Four to five generations have been wasted since 1952, this victory has been achieved after that," Modi said, in a jibe at the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Congress it dominates.

Describing himself as a "worker", he hailed grass-roots campaigners who showered him with pink rose petals as he arrived at party headquarters. There he met other party leaders and was expected to start discussions about forming a cabinet. Modi will not formally take office until after Tuesday, the party said.

Modi has given India its first parliamentary majority after 25 years of coalition governments, with his party winning more than six times the seats garnered by Congress.

With almost all 543 seats declared by Saturday morning, Modi's BJP looked set to win 282 seats, 10 more than the majority required to rule. With its allied parties, it was heading for a comfortable tally of around 337 – the clearest result since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son Rajiv to office.

The Congress reduced to just 44 seats, less than half of its previous worst showing.

Modi's landslide win gives him ample room to advance reforms started 23 years ago by current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but which have stalled in recent years.

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