Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is poised to win three of the four key state elections in India ahead of the crucial general elections next year.
The BJP has a commanding lead in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The Congress is comfortably ahead in the southern state of Telangana.
More than 160 million people or a sixth of India’s electorate were eligible to vote in the polls held in November. Counting of votes for a fifth state, Mizoram, is due on Monday.
Did these elections serve a litmus test for Mr Modi’s prospects in securing a historic third term in the upcoming general elections next year? In simpler terms, would a stronger performance by the Congress have indicated a potential setback for the BJP?
Not quite. In 2018, the Congress won three key state elections – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Three months later BJP swept the general elections nationally and in all the three states. State elections in India are fought over state or region specific concerns, while general elections revolve around more national-level issues.
Despite this dynamic, Sunday’s results come as a significant boost for Mr Modi, who is already setting his sights on a record third term next year.
The win is also significant because the BJP has frequently fallen short in state elections. Until today, the party – which enjoys a comfortable majority in parliament – governed 15 of India’s 28 states – and only nine of them directly. The rest were in coalition with smaller partners.