India's opposition Congress party has delivered a shock election defeat to the governing BJP alliance. Here's how leading politicians, observers and ordinary Indians have been reacting to the news.
Sonia Gandhi, Congress party leader
Sonia Gandhi has won an unexpected election victory
"Over the next few days the process of government formation will gather momentum."
On Pakistan: "From the very beginning we've been supporting the prime minister's initiative vis-a-vis Pakistan. We have all along been saying a dialogue must be initiated with Pakistan."
On whether she would be prime minister: "The leader of the Congress party will be elected by the elected
members of the Congress party."
Atal Behari Vajpayee, BJP leader
Atal Behari Vajpayee resigned as prime minister
"We have given up office, but not our responsibility to
serve the nation. We have lost an election, but not our
"Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity."
Rati Lal Kala, Congress supporter
"They said she is a foreigner, but the people have given
them a reply."
Venkaiah Naidu, BJP president
"As we have not got the mandate of the people we have decided to sit in the opposition."
Pramod Mahajan, top BJP official
"Everyone is stunned by this result."
"Indians have a right to choose. If they have chosen [Italian-born Congress leader Sonia Gandhi], she
has a right to rule."
Jagdish Tytler, Congress party winning candidate
Jagdish Tytler celebrates winning
"A very special moment indeed for me.
"I owe my gratitude to the people of my constituency for believing me."
Surinder Kumar, auto-rickshaw driver
"The Congress party will definitely work for people like us, though I did not expect their victory."
Mohit Sharma, grocery store owner
"This victory should be savoured. But the Congress party should be careful in choosing the person for the top post. Though Vajpayee was good, his party did not do anything for the common man."
Khursheed Kasuri, Pakistan's Foreign Minister
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said he hopes to work with new Indian government
"Pakistan looks forward to seriously and closely engaging
with the next government in India to promote this process
of peace and resolution of differences and disputes,
including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute."
Pai Panandiker, political analyst
"Personally, I thought that because of the Sonia factor,
the BJP and its allies would do much better."
"I believe that the Indian middle class doesn't like the idea
of Sonia Gandhi being prime minister. But obviously, there
is tremendous resentment against the BJP's performance."
Ambika Soni, Congress spokeswoman
"A... secular coalition led by Congress should take the oath in the next few days."
Bhaskar Rao, media analyst, Delhi
"The power shift has taken place. It is curtains for the...government. The foreign origin [of Sonia Gandhi] is not
Iknam Singh, motor mechanic, Delhi
"It's a sad day. The BJP was doing a good job under the able leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee."
Mehboob Sheikh, Muslim resident of Ahmedabad, Gujarat
"These results have brought respite to the minorities as now we feel that the year 2002 [when Gujarat was rocked by religious violence] will never be repeated. I think the bad days are over."
Aziz, voluntary worker
"The people have given a reply to the BJP for following the politics of division between communities. How can
things improve when there is so much of insecurity on all fronts?"
Pareshbhai Parmar, taxi driver
"The BJP lost because it was not able to deliver goods to a poor man. How can one 'feel good' when the government decides to make cell phones cheaper and petrol dearer? Any government which wants to come back to power will have to check inflation and unemployment."
Manish Doshi, student activist
"The BJP fell flat because of its wrong policies in the state and also the attitude of chief minister Narendra Modi towards the people. He should not have used the language he used during the campaign when he made references to the Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and her son."
Sanjay Sharma, Congress supporter
"It's a great comeback for our party. Our victory shows that people were not happy with the policies of the BJP government."
Sushil, worker at the BJP headquarters in Delhi
"Most leaders have left the office now."