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September 24, 2017

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Hero's welcome for PM-elect Modi as he arrives in New Delhi

NEW DELHI -- Thousands of flag-waving supporters mobbed Indian prime minister-elect Narendra Modi as he made a triumphant entrance in New Delhi Saturday after securing a historic victory for his Hindu nationalist party.

The 63-year-old flew into the capital in the late morning from his home state of Gujarat to bask in the glory of a landslide for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and begin organizing his cabinet.

The controversial politician, a former tea boy tainted by anti-Muslim riots on his watch as chief minister in Gujarat, has the strongest mandate of any Indian leader in 30 years.

A crowd of party supporters, who had waited at the airport since early morning while being entertained by a marching band and thumping dance music, burst through police barricades at the sight of his cavalcade.

"Modi is our lion! He will work for the people of India, he will work for development, he will work for every Indian," shouted Om Dutt, a 39-year-old shop owner, reflecting heady expectations of what the new leader will deliver.

At party headquarters in the Center of the capital, hundreds of ecstatic loyalists showered Modi in petals and chanted his name.

"I thank the BJP workers wholeheartedly," Modi said once inside, where he was flanked by senior party figures such as Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Ravi Shankar Prasad, who are likely to take government roles.

The BJP won the first majority in parliament by a single party for 30 years on Friday after a campaign by Modi focused on delivering new jobs, development and clean government.

The triumph redrew India's political map, handing him a huge mandate for change, and heaping humiliation on the Gandhi political dynasty.

The sweep claimed a fresh victim Saturday when regional leader Nitish Kumar, who has served as chief minister of eastern Bihar state since 2005, resigned after his Janata Dal (United) Party was almost wiped out in the polls.

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