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Modi's BJP retains India's biggest state

March 10, 2022

The BJP is projected to win four of the five states that went to the polls over the past month. The results could set the course for India's general election in 2024.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the historic Red Fort in Delhi
The election results are seen referendum on Modi's popularity and an endorsement of his party's Hindu-first politicsImage: Adnan Abidi/REUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party BJP is set to win reelection in India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP secured more than 250 seats in the 403-member state legislature — by far the largest in the country. It was the first time in more than three decades that a party has won a second consecutive term in the state.

BJP's sweeping victory all but guarantees that Yogi Adityanath, a hardline Hindu monk, will stay on as Chief Minister for a second term.

UP, as the state is often called, was the biggest prize among the five regions where voting was held over the past month.

Home to a population of 200 million people, UP is seen as a bellwether in Indian politics. Winning the state could boost the chances of Modi and his party scoring a third straight term office in the 2024 general election.

Niranjan Sahoo, senior fellow at New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation, told DW that if the BJP sweep all five states, it would "remain in the driver's seat for 2024 national polls."

"It once again elevates PM Modi to enviable position of unchallenged leader of the saffron party. But its a bad news for the main opposition Congress, which is struggling to hold fort in its traditional bastion," Sahoo added.

All eyes in India on Uttar Pradesh election

Newbie party wins Punjab

Four smaller states were also counting votes cast during the month-long election season.

Among them was the northern state of Punjab, which was rocked by the year-long farmers' protests against contentious agricultural laws passed by the Modi government.

The BJP, as predicted by exit polls, performed poorly in the state, failing to get more than a handful of seats.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a relatively new party that currently governs the national capital Delhi, is set for a landslide in Punjab. It is leading in more than 90 out of the total 117 seats.

"AAP's unprecedented sweep in a full fledged northern state makes them a national entity from a city-based party. From a political start-up in less than 8 years which began in Delhi city, it has come a long way," Sahoo said.

Punjab was previously led by the Congress party, India's main opposition at the national level, which also failed to make significant gains elsewhere.

BJP is also projected to win in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand and is leading as the single-largest party in the tourist hotspot Goa, and the northeast state of Manipur.

adi/jcg (AP, dpa, AFP)