Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

India’s Hindu nationalist party defeated at polls

BY-ELECTION:Modi’s BJP has lost its legislative majority, although it remains on top with the help of its allies. The opposition said that efforts to divide voters have failed

AP, NEW DELHI

India’s opposition parties inflicted a humiliating defeat on the governing Hindu nationalist party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in more than a dozen by-elections for seats in parliament and state assemblies.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies won only two seats in four by-elections for parliament and 10 for state assemblies in key states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, India’s Election Commission said on Thursday.

The voting occurred on Monday.

The party has lost its majority and now has 271 members in the 543-seat lower house of parliament, but it remains dominant due to the help of several allies, the Republic television news channel said.

The outcome could put pressure on Modi as national elections approach early next year.

He is expected to seek a second five-year term.

BJP spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao played down any threat to Modi, saying the opposition had tried to divide voters on caste lines.

“In the next general election, however, positive governance will play a dominant role and help Prime Minister Narendra Modi win a big mandate as the BJP is the nation’s choice for positive politics and governance,” Rao said.

Jayant Chaudhary, a regional leader belonging to opposition Rashtriya Lok Dal, or National People’s Party, said that the BJP’s attempt to polarize the majority Hindu support in its favor has been rejected by the people.

The Congress and other parties joined forces and made it a direct fight with the BJP in the by-elections by putting up joint candidates to avoid splitting votes.

Minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, have been complaining of rising attacks by Hindu hardliners since Modi came to power in a huge election victory in 2014.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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