AGAINST most projections, which were predicting a pretty close contest between the two main national parties of India, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won a decisive victory in the 2009 general elections for the 15th Lok Sabha over the Bhartiya Janata Party-led NDA. Dr Manmohan Singh, already nominated by Party President Sonia Gandhi to head the next government, becomes the only Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to be returned on completing a full term in office. Rahul Gandhi's win, and the expectation of his inclusion in the Cabinet, also signal that there is a prime minister in waiting. The UPA is projected to get about 260 seats, an impressive gain of around 80, but a few short of majority in a House of 543, leaving the BJP behind by over 90 seats. The UPA, however, would have little difficulty in getting the support of smaller parties to complete the tally of 272, untrammelled by the constraints imposed by associating the Communist parties in the government. The leftist parties had tried to undermine Dr Singh's market liberalisation and developing closer ties to the US in the previous UPA tenure. While the poor showing of NDA effectively put an end to L K Advani's prime ministerial ambitions and demonstrated that his policies did not attract universal appeal in the country, the smaller parties also did not fare so well. Of the 714 million registered voters, 60 percent are reported to have cast their vote. One would hope that the renewed confidence, which the election results have given the Manmohan government, persuades it to review its attitude, post-Mumbai, towards Pakistan, shed its policies of fingerpointing at Pakistan and restart the negotiating process. Continuing tension between the two countries, particularly over the Kashmir dispute, serves to strengthen militant elements. It is in the interest of both countries, and the peace and prosperity of 1.25 billion people and the world at large, that the rankling issue is put out of the way in an amicable manner that answers the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. That would be a singular tribute to the 'biggest democracy of the world'. Both Pakistan and India acting together can effectively defeat the forces of terrorism that are plaguing the region more than anywhere else. Analysts have attributed the Congress win to various factors. It was a vote for consistency, they point out, reflecting the electorate's feeling that it was not advisable to change horses in midstream in a period of economic turmoil. Dr Singh is also rightly credited with high economic growth and successful introduction of liberalisation policies. He is viewed as the most suitable person to affect economic resurgence and steer the ship of state out of the troubled waters created by the region's security environment.