The ruling BJP party conceded defeat in India’s parliamentary elections today, opening the way for Sonia Gandhi to become India’s first foreign-born prime minister in one of the most dramatic political upsets since independence.
Unofficial results indicate that millions of rural poor people abandoned Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee believing they had been left behind by the country’s economic boom.
“We have not got the mandate of the people,” said BJP President Venkaiah Naidu, adding that the decision was taken at a 90-minute meeting of the BJP and its allied party leaders.
The opposition Congress party and its allies had earlier claimed victory and declared that party leader Sonia Gandhi would be the next prime minister, after early results showed the party and its allies were ahead of Vajpayee’s 11-member National Democratic Alliance.
Before the five-phased elections, which began on April 20, Vajpayee and his alliance had been expected to win enough seats to eventually form a government and rule the country for another five years.