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India's state election results to test Modi's support

Swati Gupta and Eltaf Najafizada, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

India will begin releasing results of recent state elections on Sunday, providing important clues about voter support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party as he seeks a third term in office.

Three northern states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — will be key to watch, since they are spread across what’s known as the Hindi heartland of India, a region where Modi enjoys strong support. In total, five states held elections in November to choose lawmakers for their local assemblies.

Exit polls indicated Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party was poised to retain Madhya Pradesh and possibly swing Rajasthan its way from key rival, the Indian National Congress. The polls aren’t definitive and aren’t a reliable predictor of voter support in the nationwide elections scheduled in 2024.

The Congress party is predicted to hold on to Chhattisgarh and clinch Telangana, a southern state currently ruled by a regional party, according to the exit polls. In the northeastern state of Mizoram, the polls show a close fight between two regional parties.

India’s Election Commission is scheduled to begin counting votes and publishing results of four of the states from 8 a.m. local time on Sunday. Counting in Mizoram will be done on Monday.

 

A strong showing by Modi’s BJP would give his campaign momentum ahead of the general elections. Popularity for the 73-year-old leader and his party is largely based around a Hindu nationalist agenda and his ambition to make India a global economic giant.

Modi is facing stiff competition from an opposition largely decimated in the past decade, but now uniting to erode the BJP’s support. The Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi, is highlighting caste discrimination in its campaigns, an issue that continues to drive unemployment and high levels of inequality in the country.

The BJP started the year with a major loss in Karnataka, the only state in southern India where it had a foothold. In the local elections, voters choose lawmakers for the state assembly. The party that wins a majority of the seats forms the government in that state.


©2023 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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