Indian premier to face electoral test in two key states

State elections in India's Haryana and Maharashtra states Wednesday will be the biggest electoral challenge yet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian premier to face electoral test in two key states

World Bulletin/News Desk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to face the biggest electoral challenge to his rule in state elections in India’s northern state of Haryana and western state of Maharashtra Wednesday.

Modi is credited with single-handedly leading his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or the BJP, to victory in general elections held five months ago.

Maharashtra state, which elects 288 state lawmakers, has been ruled by a Congress party-led alliance since 1999.

The stakes are high as Maharashtra’s state capital Mumbai, the financial hub of the country, is crucial to push Modi’s reform agenda. The 64-year-old has addressed 27 election rallies, which is a record for an Indian prime minister to woo the state’s Marathi population.

The BJP stunned political analysts last month by breaking off its 25-year-old pre-poll alliance with Shiv Sena, a regional right-wing Hindu party, to contest the election with an alliance of four little-known smaller parties. The Shiv Sena party is still part of the BJP-led federal government.

Similarly, the Nationalist Congress Party has called off its 15-year old pre-poll alliance with the Congress party, paving the way for a four-cornered electoral contest in the state.

Local opinion polls predict Modi’s BJP party would either emerge as the single-largest party in the state or would win with a narrow margin. At least, 145 seats are needed to form the next state government in Maharashtra.

Haryana, the state with 90 state lawmakers, has been ruled by a Congress party alliance for the past two terms. Modi recently addressed 11 election rallies here, which currently has only four BJP lawmakers.

According to opinion polls, the BJP may not win a landslide victory in Haryana, but nonetheless it will benefit from an alleged land deal scandal that involved Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress party has been on the back foot largely because of the party’s humiliating defeat in parliamentary elections five months ago.

The powerful Gandhi family has produced four prime ministers and largely ruled the country since its independence in 1947. 

A total of 100 million registered voters are eligible to vote in both states on Wednesday morning. The result will be announced by the Election Commission of India on Sunday October 19. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Ekim 2014, 13:04

Muhammed Öylek