Local media reports that the right-wing ruling party is leading in key states to give Prime Minister Modi a boost months ahead of national elections.
India’s ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leading key regional polls in three out of four states, signaling a major boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of general elections due to take place within six months.
The core states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the southern state of Telangana and the northeastern state of Mizoram voted in provincial elections last month.
Counting of votes began in four of the five states on Sunday morning, while counting in Mizoram is expected on Monday.
As of Sunday noon (9:30 GMT), the BJP was leading in all three core states that sent 62 MPs to Parliament, vote counting trends on television channels showed. Final results are expected by the end of the day.
Election results from the five states are expected to provide insight into voter sentiment ahead of national elections in May, in which Modi will seek a third consecutive term.
The Indian National Congress, India’s largest opposition party, holds power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The BJP rules Madhya Pradesh and its regional ally, the Mizo National Front, is in power in Mizoram.
However, the Congress party appeared to be winning in Telangana, which is ruled by the regional Bharat Rashtra Samithi party, formerly known as Telangana Rashtra Samithi. The state capital Hyderabad is an important IT hub alongside Bengaluru in the neighboring state of Karnataka. The Congress won power in Karnataka last year.
New opposition alliance
Modi and his party remain popular nationally after nearly a decade in power and polls suggest he is likely to win a third term.
However, a new alliance of 28 opposition parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance or INDIA is set to challenge the BJP at the national level. It is run by Congress.
During the election campaign, Modi flew across the five states and gathered rallies to support his party’s candidates.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also traveled across the states to woo voters.
During the heated election campaigns, both heads of state and government promised voters subsidies, loan waivers and employment guarantees.
The elections come at a time when India faces numerous challenges – rising unemployment, attacks and “hate speech” by Hindu nationalists against the country’s minorities, particularly Muslims, and a shrinking space for dissent and a free media.
Source : www.aljazeera.com