Narendra Modi’s BJP set to win India key state poll


Early trends suggest that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to win crucial assembly elections in northern Uttar Pradesh state.

Mr Modi personally led the campaign in the country’s most populous state against regional rivals, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj party.

Trends suggest the BJP is also set to win the northern state of Uttarakhand.

The main opposition Congress party is leading in Punjab, and Manipur states.

Mr Modi has been central to his party’s election strategy, and aggressively campaigned on a promise to bring growth and modernisation, and to root out corruption.

These were strong promises in an impoverished state like Uttar Pradesh where caste, family and religious affiliations are deeply entrenched.

Mr Modi also strongly backed his move to ban high value notes – amounting to 86% of India’s currency – last year as a measure to tackle corruption.

The incumbent chief minister, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, opposed the currency move, and told the electorate that Mr Modi had “taken money out of people’s pockets”, and hurt businesses in the state.

The BJP’s resounding win in Uttar Pradesh has proven that Mr Modi’s ability to connect with the voter has not diminished.

The party did not declare a chief ministerial candidate, and relied heavily on Mr Modi. The opposition called him “an outsider from Gujarat state”, and criticised the BJP for not having a local leader, but this has clearly not impacted sentiment on the ground.

The prime minister was able to successfully project himself as the “adopted son of Uttar Pradesh”. He is an elected MP from the state.

The victory in Uttar Pradesh, as well as the neighbouring state of Uttarakhand will further boost his stature in national politics.

But there will be challenges ahead. People have put faith in Mr Modi’s leadership, but he is not going to rule the state.

He also told people that he was the best person to bring development in the state.

“My track record in the past five years shows that I have a vision for the state,” he said at a rally recently.

Analysts say Mr Yadav’s decision to form an alliance with the Congress party, and his direct attack on Mr Modi’s policies probably hurt his prospects.