NEW DELHI – Narendra Modi’s party won a landslide victory in India’s most populous state on Saturday in a massive vote of confidence for the prime minister halfway into his first term.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a surprise absolute majority in Uttar Pradesh in the north, which is home to 220 million people and seen as a key indicator of national politics.
Party leader Amit Shah called the win a “historic mandate” for the BJP, which also won a majority in the mountainous northern state of Uttarakhand, and claimed it would be able to form governments in Goa and Manipur.
“These results will set Indian politics in a new direction,” he said at a press conference at the party’s New Delhi headquarters.
“The faith that people have placed in the BJP and in Narendra Modi will pay off.”
The BJP won 311 of the total 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh according to the figures on the election commission website and is expected to name its chief minister for the state on Sunday.
The party had been expected to perform well in UP, but few experts had predicted the scale of the victory in elections across five states viewed as a test of Modi’s popularity after a controversial ban on high-value banknotes.
Modi’s dominance has been largely unchallenged since he won the first overall majority in three decades in the 2014 general election on a pledge to wipe out corruption and kickstart the economy.
He already looks well-placed for re-election in 2019 over the centre-left Congress Party, which the BJP ousted from power in 2014.
In UP Congress ran in an alliance with the locally ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), but were trailing in a distant second.– AFP