Modi’s ruling BJP voted out in the important Indian state of Karnataka

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By Webdesk

India’s opposition party, the Congress Party, has seized power in a key state, partial election results showed, beating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP a year ahead of national polls.

It removed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party from office in Karnataka, the only southern state controlled by the Hindu nationalist group.

With dozens of results still to come in Saturday, Congress had already won 114 seats in the 224-seat assembly, enough for an overall majority, and led it in another 22, which would give it a comfortable cushion, the agency’s website showed. see the Election Commission.

Karnataka has more than 60 million inhabitants – about the same as the United Kingdom – and the capital Bengaluru is the technical center of India. The state voted on Wednesday and full results are expected later Saturday.

It is the second state that Modi’s party has lost to the Congress party in the past six months. In December, Congress dismissed the BJP in northern Himachal Pradesh, a small state nestled in the Himalayas.

The results of the polls are expected to boost the largely divided opposition that is keen to form a united front to challenge Modi in next year’s general election, in which he will seek to extend his premiership for a third consecutive term.

Congress Secretary General Jairam Ramesh attributed the party’s victory to having run the election campaign on local issues such as “livelihoods and food security, price rises, farmers’ distress, electricity supply, unemployment and corruption”.

“The prime minister caused division and tried to polarize. The mood in Karnataka is for an engine in Bengaluru that will combine economic growth with social harmony,” Ramesh wrote on Twitter.

“The markets of hate are closed and the shops of love are open,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told reporters at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi, where his cheering supporters and party members broke off fireworks and danced to the beat of the drums.

In recent years, Modi’s party has sought to maximize profits in Karnataka, where communal polarization between Hindus and Muslim minorities has deepened after BJP leaders and supporters banned girls from wearing headscarves as part of their school uniform.

According to the 2011 census, India’s most recent, 84 percent of Karnataka’s population was Hindu, nearly 13 percent Muslim, and less than 2 percent Christian.

‘I accept this verdict with respect’

BJP state leader BS Yediyurappa, a former prime minister, admitted defeat.

“Victory and defeat are not new to the BJP,” he told reporters. “We’ll [be introspective] about the party’s failure. I respectfully accept this verdict.”

The party had been running a major campaign in the state with Modi himself visiting to promote its muscular form of Hindu politics.

At one of his rallies, Modi praised an incendiary new film that wildly exaggerates the number of Hindu women converting to Islam and joining ISIL (ISIS).

Modi also tried to woo Hindu voters by singing an ode to the monkey god Hanuman.

“This election has exposed the limits of Modi’s popularity,” said Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, political commentator and author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times.

“It shows that the BJP’s attempts to polarize voters have somehow failed and that there are limits to Hindutva politics,” he told AFP news agency.

The victory would “strengthen the position of the Congress party within the gamut of opposition parties,” he said, but was unlikely to affect the overall result in 2024.

Congress, the party of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, dominated the country’s politics for decades, but has been on the decline for years, and victory in Karnataka will bring the number of states it controls to just four.

The BJP lacked a majority in Karnataka’s last state election in 2018, but seized power a year later reportedly by persuading members of the ruling coalition to defect.

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