Tuesday, June 18, 2019 | ePaper

Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

  • Print


Supporter of India's main opposition Congress party waves the party's flag and celebrates after the initial poll results at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Reuters, New Delhi :
India's ruling party could lose power in three key states, four TV networks said on Tuesday, citing votecount leads, potentially handing Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014, and months ahead of a general election.
The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election.
Analysts say a big loss for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition, despite his high personal popularity in the face of criticism that he did not deliver on promises of jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers.
"We've all voted for Congress this time and our candidate is winning here," said Bishnu Prasad Jalodia, a wheat grower in Madhya Pradesh, where it appears as if Congress might have to woo smaller parties to keep out Modi's party.
"BJP ignored us farmers, they ignored those of us at the bottom of the pyramid."
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, president of the left-of-center Congress, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups and face Modi with his most serious challenge yet, in the election that must be held by May.
In Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 114 of the 199 seats contested, against 81 for the BJP, in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 59 of the 90 seats at stake, with the BJP at 24. In Madhya Pradesh, the most important of the five states that held assembly elections over the past few weeks, Congress was ahead, with 112 of 230 seats. The Hindu nationalist BJP was at 103, the network said.
Three other TV channels also said Congress was leading in the three states, with regional parties leading in two smaller states that also voted, Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.
Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.
Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.
Indian markets recovered some ground after an early fall as the central bank governor's unexpected resignation the previous day shocked investors.
The rupee currency dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent, with investors cautious ahead of the election results.
"As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP's drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real," Nomura said in a research note before the results.
"A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections."
Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.
Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.
"When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned," opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.

More News For this Category

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong leaves jail, vows to join protests

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong leaves jail, vows to join protests

AFP, Hong Kong :Leading Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong walked free from prison Monday and vowed to join historic anti-government protests rocking the finance hub, as activists kept up

Vatican formally opens debate on married priests in Amazon

Vatican formally opens debate on married priests in Amazon

AP, Vatican City :The Vatican formally opened debate Monday on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics

Indian doctors’ strike over violence from patients and families

Indian doctors’ strike over violence from patients and families

AFP, New Delhi :Tens of thousands of Indian doctors went on strike Monday calling for more protection against violence by patients and their families, as parliament met for the first

"Khashoggi death painful, stop exploiting case": Saudi Crown Prince

 AFP, Riyadh :Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has warned against "exploiting" the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for political gains, in what appeared to be a veiled attack on

Pakistani blogger, activist, known for criticism of army, killed

Pakistani blogger, activist, known for criticism of army, killed

PTI, Islamabad :A 22-year-old Pakistani blogger and journalist known for criticising the country's military and the spy agency ISI was killed by a man in Islamabad, the police said today.Muhammad

News In Brief

Israel to attend US ME peace conferenceAFP, JerusalemIsrael will attend an upcoming conference on the economic aspects of Washington's peace plan aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Foreign Minister Israel

Over 40pc of newly elected Indian lawmakers facing criminal charges

Over 40pc of newly elected Indian lawmakers facing criminal charges

AP, New Delhi :India's recent national election delivered a historic victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, but also exposed the influence of money, power and questionable morality

Trump in new attack on London's Mayor calls Sadiq Khan a ‘disaster’

Trump in new attack on London's Mayor calls Sadiq Khan a ‘disaster’

US President Donald Trump launched a fresh attack Saturday on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling for him to be replaced as soon as possible."LONDON needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan

Saudi Crown Prince lashes out at arch-rival Iran over tanker attacks

Saudi Crown Prince lashes out at arch-rival Iran over tanker attacks

AFP, Riyadh :Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused arch-rival Iran of attacks on oil tankers in a vital Gulf shipping channel, adding he "won't hesitate" to tackle any threats

Far-right seeks control of German town favoured by Hollywood

Far-right seeks control of German town favoured by Hollywood

AFP, Gorlitz :The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is battling to win the mayor's office in a bellwether election on Sunday at a town in the former East Germany