Modi's party set for landslide win in India's most populous state

Congress party leader Sandeep Dikshit

Congress party leader Sandeep Dikshit

Exit polls for Legislative Assembly elections indicate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up a strong showing in five Indian states.

CVoter exit poll predicts a close-fought battle between the Congress and the BJP to gain control of Goa, with both parties unlikely to gain a clear majority in the 40-member state assembly. It can gloat about Punjab, which it has swept, and possibly about Manipur and Goa where it might be able to form governments.

Some of Modi's key reforms, such as a nationwide sales tax, have come unstuck in the Rajya Sabha where BJP lacks majority. Though BJP was criticised for not fielding any Muslim candidate, what could have possibly worked in favour of the saffron party is its stand on Triple Talaq issue in Supreme Court where it stated that it violates fundamental rights of Muslim women.

"This is the victory of the corruption-free rule and pro-poor polices under the leadership of Modi", he told a media conference at the BJP national headquarters in Delhi soon after the elections results began pouring in as party activists broke into wild celebrations setting off crackers, distributing candies and splashing colours two days ahead of the festival of Holi. "Huge support from the youth is gladdening", Modi said on Twitter.

Congress did not announce any chief ministerial face during the campaign and three top leaders and former chief ministers-Pratapsinh Rane, Digambar Kamat and Faleiro himself-are in the fray for contest. She provided no evidence for her claims, which are unlikely to be taken seriously.

The states' election results are set to be declared tomorrow.

The elections were held in five states in February and early March, but the votes were not tallied until Saturday.

Whatever the vote's outcome, though, the ruling party's lack of a majority in the legislature's upper house will limit Modi's ability to advance his agenda for the rest of his term in office.

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A decision as to who will be BJP's new chief minister in UP would be made by the party's highest policy-making forum - the parliamentary board - and the legislature party in the state soon, Shah said. The BJP led in 322 of the 403 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and 57 of the 70 constituencies in neighboring Uttarakhand. Exit polls have predicted victory for BJP in Uttarakhand.

One important aspect of this year's assembly elections has been the fact that voters in most states except Manipur voted for anti-incumbency.

But they caution that his biggest task remains transforming India's economy into one that creates enough jobs for an emerging generation that is desperate to give up life on the farm for a more prosperous future.

On the campaign trail, too, Modi played up religious divisions by asking why the state government ensured there were no power cuts in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but not during the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Politically, a win in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous, would strengthen the BJP-led coalition's hand in selecting India's new president - in elections likely to take place in July, reported Bloomberg.

In the NDTV poll of polls, an average of several exit polls, the BJP was projected to win 179 seats, the SP-Congress 136 and the BSP 77 seats in the country's largest state.

As expected, Indian National Congress doubled its strength, but came short of touching the halfway mark of 20 seats. The states in the northeast have seen a very slow rate of development with rampant corruption and violence. Talking about Punjab, he said "I thank people of Punjab for giving Akali Dal and BJP the opportunity to serve for 10 years & for the support we got in these polls". It is easy to blame Congress' woes on Rahul Gandhi and label him a failure, but that will not solve the party's fundamental problems.

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