In­dia’s Modi con­cedes de­feat in key state elec­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

NEW DELHI — In­dia’s rul­ing party lost power in three key states on Tues­day, deal­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi his big­gest de­feat since he took of­fice in 2014 and boost­ing the op­po­si­tion ahead of na­tional polls next year.

The re­sults in the ru­ral heart­land states of Ra­jasthan, Ch­hat­tis­garh and Mad­hya Pradesh could force the fed­eral govern­ment run by Modi’s Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party to raise spend­ing in the coun­try­side, where more than two-thirds of In­dia’s 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple live.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts said the BJP’s de­feat would un­der­score ru­ral dis­may with the govern­ment and could help unite the op­po­si­tion led by the Con­gress party. Modi is per­son­ally pop­u­lar but has been crit­i­cized for fail­ing to de­liver jobs for young peo­ple and bet­ter con­di­tions for farm­ers.

Re­act­ing late on Tues­day to the re­sults, Modi said on Twit­ter: “Vic­tory and de­feat are an in­te­gral part of life. To­day’s re­sults will fur­ther our re­solve to serve peo­ple and work even harder for the devel­op­ment of In­dia.”

The re­sults came as a shot in the arm for Rahul Gandhi, pres­i­dent of the left-of-cen­ter Con­gress, who is try­ing to forge a broad al­liance with re­gional groups and present Modi with his most se­ri­ous chal­lenge yet in a gen­eral elec­tion that must be held by May.

Con­gress has ruled In­dia for most of its post-in­de­pen­dence era af­ter 1947 but was dec­i­mated by Modi’s BJP in na­tional polls in 2014. Since then, it had strug­gled to make ma­jor in­roads, even in state polls.

On Tues­day, cel­e­bra­tions erupted out­side the Con­gress party head­quar­ters in New Delhi, with sup­port­ers danc­ing, set­ting off fire­crack­ers and bran­dish­ing posters prais­ing Gandhi.

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