By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on their election victory.
A statement by Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Thursday, quoted President Buhari as describing India as Nigeria’s largest trading partner and expressed appreciation over the mutually beneficial Nigeria-India relationship.
According to him, President Buhari looks forward to expanding existing cooperation on energy, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and health.
Buhari recalled that under Prime Minister Modi, India hosted the successful India-Africa Forum in Oct. 2015 and Nigeria proudly recognized India as a strategic development partner on the continent.
The Nigerian leader wished the Indian Prime Minister a successful new term in office “that ushers in more prosperity, progress and stability to the people of the world’s largest democracy.’’
Other world leaders have also congratulated Modi, the 68 year-old leader, on his victory.
US President Donald Trump sent Twitter congratulations on the “BIG” win and added: “Great things are in store for the US-India partnership with the return of PM Modi at the helm.”
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Emmanuel Macron of France and prime ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Scott Morrison of Australia and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel were among world leaders to call Modi before the final results were even released, the foreign ministry said.
A rolling election commission vote count showed the BJP was on course to increase its grip on parliament with 303 out of 543 elected seats — up from 282 in 2014.
It will be the first time in almost five decades that an Indian premier has been voted back with increased majority.
“The voting numbers in India’s election is the biggest event in the history of (the) democratic world. The entire world has to recognise the democratic strength of India,” Modi told cheering crowds.
The opposition Congress party was on just 52 seats, with Rahul Gandhi — the great-grandson, grandson and son of three premiers — conceding defeat and congratulating Modi.
The Congress tally only improved marginally from its historic low of 44 in 2014 polls.
In an added personal humiliation Gandhi, 48, also lost Amethi, a seat long held by his storied family, to a former television star running for the BJP.
The BJP headquarters in Delhi erupted in celebration with drummers, firecrackers, dancing and singing as thousands of party faithful waited in heavy rain for their leader.