India's newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, arrived in the capital New Delhi this morning from his home state of Gujarat for a carnival-like reception, where he was cheered and showered with rose petals thrown by supporters of his Hindu nationalist party.

Standing on the footboard of his SUV, Modi flashed a victory sign as he drove past the crowd outside the airport, heading toward the headquarters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to discuss the formation of a new government.

The party's offices in the heart of the capital were festooned with garlands made of marigold flowers and multicoloured balloons. 

Supporters blew conch shells, which traditionally mark the start of most Hindu rituals and chanted "Long live Narendra Modi!"

Modi and his BJP wiped out the Congress party that dominated Indian politics for all but a decade since the country gained freedom from British rule in 1947.

By Saturday morning, of the 521 seats declared, the BJP had won 279 seats and led in three more.

The Congress won 43 seats and led in one in the 543-strong Lok Sabha, or lower house of the Indian parliament.

3 decades of coalition governments

The last time any single party won a majority in India was in 1984, when the Congress party swept more than 400 seats following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

In this round of voting, the BJP won more than six times the seats captured by Congress.

Party chief Rajnath Singh said legislators will meet on May 20 to formally elect Modi as their leader. Singh said a date for oath-taking ceremony was yet to be confirmed.

During the campaign, Modi downplayed the Hindu nationalism of his party and campaigned, promising the country's 815 million voters that he would work toward economic development for all.

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

Modi downplayed the Hindu nationalism of his party and campaigned on promises to revive the economy.

With files from Reuters