The ruling party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed victory in assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and three more states, hailing it as a “historic mandate” that would open in new page in the country’s politics.
On Saturday, Amit Shah, the leader of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the party would form governments in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous states, as well as in Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.
Early results showed Modi’s party had secured an overwhelming victory in Uttar Pradesh, a win which would increase the premier’s chances for a second term in office.
The Election Commission of India said Saturday that the BJP was leading in 301 of the 403 seats in the northern state, an outcome which would give it the largest majority scored by any party in the state since 1980, if confirmed.
Seizing control of Uttar Pradesh would amount to a ringing endorsement of Modi’s leadership of Asia’s third-largest economy following his risky decision last November to scrap high-value banknotes worth 86 percent of the cash in circulation.
Modi came into the Uttar Pradesh campaign after his party got off to a sluggish start, addressing dozens of rallies and turning the contest into a test of his popularity.
This is while celebrations broke out outside BJP offices in the state’s capital Lucknow.
“This is a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s corruption-free administration and welfare measures for the poor,” said Shah.
Modi pitched himself as a man on the side of the weak in the largely poor and agricultural state of 220 million people, vowing measures to strike hard on the corrupt rich with his demonetization drive.
Critics, however, accuse the ruling party of inciting communal tensions to shore up votes among its core Hindu base.
None of the BJP’s opponents, including an alliance between Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party, managed to secure a vote share above 23 percent, partial official returns indicated.