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Pro-Hindu BJP dominates state elections

Wins seen as precursor to Narendra Modi's prime ministerial run in May

Pro-Hindu BJP dominates state elections

BJP supporters hold a cutout of the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at a rally in New Delhi (AFP photo/Sajjad Hussain)

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept state elections in India in polls seen as a precursor to general elections next year in a resounding defeat for the government.

The BJP recorded a landslide in western Rajasthan as it took the state from the ruling Congress Party while also extending its dominance in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh for the third elections in a row in both states.

In Delhi, the BJP emerged as the single largest party by winning 32 of 70 assembly seats but the state was left without a majority winner after the newly formed anti-corruption Aaam Aadmi Party turned out to be a spoiler with 28 seats. Congress won just eight seats in the capital.

“We will form governments in all the four states,” said Rajnath Singh, the BJP president.

Singh attributed the party’s strong showing to the impact of Narendra Modi, the BJP’s divisive prime ministerial candidate in general elections due in May.

Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, had campaigned aggressively in all four states ahead of the polls held over the past few weeks.

Chandrakant Naidu, a political analyst, said that Modi’s rallies had helped the BJP add critical seats as India gears up for May elections.

“The BJP might not come in with a full majority during the general elections but there is a possibility of it heading a new coalition government,” he said. “The state results have been quite positive for the party.”

The poll win for the pro-Hindu party represents bad news for minorities in India, said John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council, a government body of senior politicians charged with seeking ways to reform casteism, communalism and regionalism.

Although the BJP had done well in these four states, this success would not necessarily extend across a country where Modi is a divisive figure, he added.

“The state results could be a morale booster for the party but it cannot translate into a win in the general elections,” said Dayal.

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