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Narendra Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi secures vote of confidence with landslide victory in key state

Cash shortages that followed November’s shock ban on high-denomination banknotes appear to have done little damage to his standing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 8:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 10:21pm

Narendra Modi’s party yesterday won a landslide in India’s most populous state, delivering a vote of confidence for the prime min­ister halfway into his first term.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist ­Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed victory in four states ­including Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the north, which is home to 220 million people and viewed a key indicator of national politics.

The BJP was leading in 310 seats out of the total 403 constit­uencies in UP, way above the 202 seats it needed to form a ­government on its own, the Election Commission of India website showed.

Caste, dynastic politics and polarisation have lost and the people have accepted the politics of performance
Amit Shah, BJP

The BJP had been expected to perform well in UP, but few ­experts had predicted the app­arent scale of the victory in elections viewed as a test of Modi’s popularity after a controversial ban on high-value banknotes. Party leader Amit Shah said the BJP would also form governments in the smaller states of Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, calling it a “historic mandate” for the party.

“These results will set Indian politics in a new direction,” he said. “Caste, dynastic politics and polarisation have lost and the people have accepted the politics of performance.”

In a tweet, Modi said he was overjoyed by the “unprecedented support from all sections of society” and congratulated staff.

The result will ultimately strengthen the BJP’s hand in parliament’s upper house, where the lack of a majority has hampered its reform agenda.

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 kick-start the economy. He already looks well-placed for re-election in 2019 over the centre-left Congress Party, which the BJP ousted in 2014.

Celebrations broke out at BJP’s headquarters in state capital Lucknow where euphoric supporters danced to drum beats and distributed sweets.

“The state should now witness rapid development. Corruption and nepotism in governance would also come down,” one supporter, Viti Kumar, said.

The cash shortages that followed November’s shock ban on high-denomination banknotes appear to have done little damage to his standing. Upbeat scenes also unfolded at the BJP’s national headquarters in Delhi where men and women waved giant flags bearing the party’s lotus symbol.

UP has been ruled since 2012 by the socialist Samajwadi Party whose leader and current Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav forged an alliance with Congress. Yadav tried to tap into the pain from ­Modi’s cash ban, campaigning alongside Congress’ frontman Rahul Gandhi.