Opposition Dominates 2014 Election
In May 2014's general election, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party trounced the governing Indian National Congress Party, taking about 60% of the seats in parliament. The decisive victory gave the party an outright majority in parliament. Narendra Modi is set to become prime minister. The Congress party, headed by the Gandhi family, has prevailed over Indian politics since the country gained independence in 1947. The results reflected the country's dissatisfaction with lackluster economic growth, high inflation, and a series of corruption scandals. The election took place in nine phases from April 7 through May 12, making it the longest election in the country's history. Some 550 million votes were cast, and voter turnout was about 66%.
Modi assumed office on May 26, 2014. A Hindu nationalist, Modi was previously chief minister of Gujarat, a state in northwest India, where his administration had been praised for its economic policies, which have created rapid economic growth. However, Modi is a controversial figure, mainly for his administration's role in the 2002 Gujarat riots where the death toll was estimated between 900 to over 2000, with several thousand more injured. Most of the victims of the riots were Muslim. To curb the violence, Modi's government enforced curfews and asked for the army to intervene, but human rights organizations, the media, and the opposition argued that Modi's administration didn't do enough to stop the riots and, in some instances, even condoned it.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted an invitation to attend Modi's inauguration. The invite was one of Modi's first decisions as prime minister. The two shook hands and exchanged pleasantries at the ceremony, a sign that there may be a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan.
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