NEW DELHI, India's ruling party looked set to lose power in at least one of three traditional stronghold states releasing
election results Tuesday, in a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of
national polls in 2019.
Early election results in the central state of Chhattisgarh indicated the
main opposition Congress party of Rahul Gandhi would win 59 seats compared to
just 11 for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Hindu nationalist BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.
The race looked closer in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two other
traditional strongholds of Modi's BJP that were also counting votes following
elections in the states this month and last.
In central Madhya Pradesh, home to 73 million people, early results put the
BJP neckandneck with Congress, as observers said it was too early to call
the result either way.
Similarly in the western desert state of Rajasthan ruled by the BJP's
Vasundhara Raje, a maharani or princess Modi's party was predicted to win
74 seats compared to 97 for Congress.
Television footage showed Congress workers bursting firecrackers and
dancing at regional party offices in both states.
Tuesday's results are being seen as a referendum on 68yearold Modi, who
will be seeking a second term in the office in national elections due by May
Defeats in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan would dent his
invincible image and put the party on the back foot.
It would also strengthen 48yearold Gandhi scion of the GandhiNehru
dynasty with Congress having lost more than a dozen states to the BJP
since Modi became prime minister in 2014.
The BJP currently rules 19 out of 29 Indian states either outright or in
alliance with local parties. Congress rules just two states, including one in
alliance with a regional partner.
Political commentators have linked the BJP's apparent dwindling support to
growing rural distress and unemployment rates in the country.
Nearly 55 percent of India's 1.25 billion population is directly or
indirectly dependent on agriculture, and farmers form an important voting
bloc for parties.
In two other states also releasing results Tuesday, Telangana in the south
and remote Mizoram in the northeast, regional parties looked to be leading.
Gandhi's Congress is leading efforts to stitch a larger alliance of
regional parties to take on the BJP next year, convening a meeting to this
effect on Monday in Delhi.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)