New Delhi, Dec 8 (EFE).- Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party closed the year with a resounding victory Thursday in regional elections in the prime minister’s native state of Gujarat in western India, a BJP stronghold for the past three decades.
The BJP won or was leading in 156 seats (two of them have yet to be confirmed) of the 182 in the regional Legislative Assembly, a gain of 57 seats compared to the 2017 polls, India’s Election Commission said.
The opposition Congress Party of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was the main loser in the vote, winning just 17 seats having secured 78 five years ago, a poor showing that demonstrates the popularity crisis afflicting the party.
The Common Man’s Party (AAP), created in 2012 by the anti-corruption activist and current chief minister of New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, which appeals to voters by focusing its policies on education and health issues, won five seats.
Some 49 million people in Gujarat were called to the polls, which are being seen as a gauge of Modi’s popularity ahead of the general elections to be held in 2024, in which the prime minister is expected to seek a third term after two consecutive absolute majorities.
“Thank you Gujarat. I am overcome with a lot of emotions seeing the phenomenal election results. People blessed politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace,” Modi said on Twitter.
Amnesty International has highlighted the repression to which religious minorities are subjected to in Gujarat
In the wake of the BJP’s victory, Amnesty International highlighted the repression to which religious minorities, especially Muslims, have been subjected in Gujarat in recent years, and called on the new government to better protect their rights.
The Electoral Commission also revealed the outcome of the November 12 elections in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, where the Congress won a majority with 40 seats, while the BJP, only obtained 25 seats after winning in the state five years prior. Himachal Pradesh needs a majority of 35 members to form a government.
The BJP’s figures in the Himalayan region are a major setback after it won a majority of 44 representatives in 2017 that allowed it to hold power in the region, while also offering a respite to Congress.
“We congratulate all the sisters and brothers of Himachal for expressing their faith in the Congress Party,” the new leader of the party, Mallikarjun Kharge, wrote on Twitter, promising to fulfill all their electoral pledges.
The results of both elections come out a day after the release of preliminary results of a local poll for the Indian capital’s main municipal body, in which the AAP won a sweeping victory over the BJP with 134 of the 250 constituencies.EFE