Wed, Feb 12, 2020 - Page 6 News List

India’s ruling party routed in key state vote

Reuters, NEW DELHI

Demonstrators scuffle with police as they try to cross barricades during a protest against a new citizenship law outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

India’s ruling party was yesterday projected to lose a key state election, the vote count showed, in its first electoral test since deadly anti-government protests erupted nearly two months ago.

The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a bigger majority in a general election in May, but it has lost a string of state elections since.

The protests, in which at least 25 people have been killed, erupted across the country in the middle of December last year, after the BJP passed a new citizenship law that critics have said breaches India’s secular constitution and discriminates against minority Muslims.

In counting for state polls held in the capital New Delhi, data from the Election Commission of India showed the liberal Aam Aadmi Party, led by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, leading with 57 out of 70 seats.

The BJP ran a campaign accusing protesters of supporting India’s archrival Pakistan and was projected to win 13 seats, up from three in 2015, but far below its own expectations.

Delhi BJP leader Manoj Tiwari had predicted that the party would win a majority.

Aam Aadmi Party advocates in distinctive white boat-shaped caps danced outside party headquarters in New Delhi as the result became clear, TV channels showed.

Ashoka University assistant professor Neelanjan Sircar said that local issues, including delivery of basic services such as education and health, appeared to sway voters toward the Aam Aadmi Party, even as the BJP ran a polarizing campaign on the back of Modi’s image.

“Modi is a larger-than-life character at the national level, which obviously gives the BJP a huge advantage in national politics, but it doesn’t translate to state-level politics, where the BJP often doesn’t have a charismatic face,” Sircar said.

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