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Friday, February 16, 2024

Modi’s party wins elections in India’s heartland states

The BJP swept the polls in three regional elections held last month, ousting the opposition Congress party in two of them

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has won regional elections in three out of five states where legislative assembly elections were held in November, according to polling results announced on Sunday night.

The BJP has held onto power in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and ousted the Congress, India’s main opposition party, in two other heartland states – Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Congress, however, emerged a winner in Telangana state in southern India, which has been ruled by the regional party Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) since 2014.

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The ballots were counted on December 3 in all four states, while in Mizoram, the fifth state that went to the polls last month, it was postponed by one day to avoid a Sunday vote-count – due to it being a Christian-majority state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the assembly election results are a win for the two key concepts promoted by his government – self-reliant India (‘Aatmanirbharta’) and “development for all” (‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’). Addressing party workers at the BJP headquarters in the national capital while the vote counting was still on, the PM called the saffron party’s victory in assembly elections “historic and unprecedented.”  “This hattrick of victories has given the guarantee for the 2024 hattrick,” he added, referring to the general elections next year, where he will seek a third consecutive term.

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Modi suggested that the results of the latest state elections, which are being touted as a ‘semifinal’ ahead of next year’s national polls, indicate that a third term next year is guaranteed. “The results… indicate that the people of India are firmly with politics of good governance and development, which the BJP stands for,” the prime minister posted on X.

Meanwhile, in Telangana, BRS leadership accepted defeat before the vote-counting process was completed. The working president of the party, Minister K.T. Rama Rao, took to social media on December 3 afternoon, stating that the party is “grateful to the people of Telangana for giving two consecutive terms of governance.

Exit polls have initially presented divided opinions, with some favoring the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, while others suggested an advantage for the Congress in both Telangana and Chhattisgarh.

While BJP’s victory in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan underscored Modi’s widespread popularity after almost a decade in power, it also poses questions for the leadership of the Congress, particularly Rahul Gandhi, as well as the role that India’s oldest part seeks in the 28-party opposition alliance formed early this year to challenge BJP,  Indian Express newspaper noted.

BJP central leadership is now expected to choose chief ministers in three states where it has won in consultation with the elected members of the Legislative Assembly in the respective states.