Article published on the 2009-05-16 Latest update 2009-05-16 10:43 TU
Supporters of India's ruling Congress party celebrate in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad on Saturday
As results came in from India's Election Commission on Saturday, the country's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it accepted the "verdict of the people", saying the results were far below expectations.
Arun Jaitley of the BJP said the defeat would give rise to "a debate within the party" after projections for the BJP-led coalition were at 160 seats.
This would leave the group well behind the ruling coalition led by the Congress party which is predicted to collect up to 250 seats, of which 190 seats could go to Congress alone.
The Congress party spokesman Abhisek Manu Singhvi described the election vote as "decisive". If projections are confirmed, it would leave the party short of an absolute majority in the 543-seat parliament, but in a much stronger position than analysts had predicted going into the election.
The Congress coalition will seek to attract further partners from the regional parties if, as predicted, it misses the 272-seat majority by only 20 to 30 seats.
The election also saw poor results for India's left-wing, after it suffered in the states of West Bengal and Kerala and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Prakash Karat, said the vote was "a major setback".
He described the results as a victory for Congress and its allies which, he said, "will now clearly form the government".
A government will have to be formed by 2 June, in line with the constitution.
The election saw 714 million people eligible to vote in close to a million polling centres and it was staggered over five voting sessions from mid-April to 13 May.