India’s ruling party, BJP looked set to lose power in three key states, showed the official vote counts, defeating the ruling Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took office in 2014, and only months ahead of a general election.
When only few months are left for general election, the results in the heartland, rural states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, where more than two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people live, could force the federal government run by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lift spending in the countryside.
Despite Modi’s high personal popularity, in the face of criticism he did not deliver jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers, BJP’s likely defeat underscores rural dismay with the government and could help unite the opposition led by the Congress party, says the political analysts.
Bishnu Prasad Jalodia, a wheat farmer in Madhya Pradesh said, “We’ve all voted for Congress this time and our candidate is winning here,” where the Congress was ahead of the BJP and only slightly short of the majority needed to rule.
“BJP ignored us farmers, they ignored those of us at the bottom of the pyramid.”
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, the president of Indian National Congress, who is trying to forge in the election that must be held by May a broad alliance with regional groups and Modi with his most serious challenge.
According to the data from Indian Election Commission, in Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 100 of the 199 seats contested, against 65 for the BJP.
In Chhattisgarh, Congress was ahead in 62 of the 90 seats at stake, with the BJP at 13. In Madhya Pradesh, the most important of the five states that held assembly elections over the past few weeks, Congress was leading with 115 seats while BJP had 105 out of 230.
Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast, regional parties were leading in two smaller states that also voted.
The BJP said the state results would not necessarily dictate what happens in next year’s general election. At the same time Congress said, they were confident of forming governments in all of the three big states.