Huge Setback for Modi’s BJP in Indian State Assembly Elections

Dec 13, 2018, 01:21
Huge Setback for Modi’s BJP in Indian State Assembly Elections

The Congress was widely expected to win in the northern state of Rajasthan, while the central state of Madhya Pradesh was always seen as a close contest between the two parties.

Crediting his party's workers - whom he called "babbar sher (lions)" - for the wins, Mr Gandhi said that the BJP talks of a "Congress Mukt Bharat", but the Congress does not want a BJP Mukt Bharat. In the states too the party's control dwindled as it kept losing out to the BJP.

As the Congress headed towards victory in Rajasthan, outgoing chief minister Vasundhara Raje today said she is proud of the development work done by her government and respects the mandate of the people.

State-level elections are not ideal indicators of the national mood, analysts noted, but the BJP setbacks are a reversal of the trend that has seen it increase the number of states it controls since 2014.

Not to be missed in the high drama battle between the Congress and the BJP, the other candidates have also managed to gain leads in the polls. Competition stays between Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as main contenders.

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In Rajasthan, the Congress received 39.3 per cent of the votes while the BJP got 38.8. In 2014, they won the first single-party majority in 30 years in the country's lower house of parliament.

The Congress Legislature Party will meet at 4 pm to choose its leader.

Regional parties were leading in two smaller states that also voted, Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) retained its hold over the state, widely defeating the opposition Congress.

Congress had not announced chief ministerial face in any of the three states and consequently, the decision to choose who will take on the top post will rest with elected MLAs.

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In Rajasthan, the BJP and Congress vote shares were 38.8 percent and 39.3 percent, respectively.

The picture becomes clearer in the 10 Scheduled Caste (SC) reserved seats, where BJP had made a near clean sweep, winning 9 of them, in 2013.

What remains abundantly clear is that the 2019 general elections will be a referendum on Mr Modi. Some of India's important institutions like the federal investigation agency CBI and the central bank have been roiled by controversies, prompting many to believe that their independence has been eroded.

A lawmaker for the BJP said it had erred in focusing its campaign on partisan themes, such as the building of a Hindu temple at a site disputed by Muslims, instead of offering jobs and growth. Modi is personally popular but has been criticized for failing to deliver jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers.

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