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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - NEW DELHI — India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set for a record seventh straight term in Gujarat legislative elections.
Election results show the BJP leading in 158 seats in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state. With just under 20 seats, Congress is looking at its worst show ever.
The Aam Aadmi Party, or AAP, which launched an aggressive campaign to make it a three-cornered contest for the first time in Gujarat, has made inroads in the western state, largely at Congress's expense.
Three prominent AAP candidates, including its chief minister face Isudan Gadhvi, have lost their seat.
BJP has announced a swearing-in ceremony on Monday. The event will be attended by Prime Minister Modi.
Modi is at the Delhi BJP headquarters, leading the party's celebrations this evening after the party's best-ever result in Gujarat state polls.
The northern state of Himachal Pradesh, however, has proved to be a face-saver for Congress, which has taken a clear lead over the BJP after neck and neck contest after five hours of counting. The poll outcome in the hill state will decide the revival of the grand old party, which now holds power only in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, both of which will go to polls in 2023.
In the by-elections in five states including the high-profile Lok Sabha seat of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party is leading in all three seats in Uttar Pradesh. Biju Janta Dal is leading in Padampur.
Prime Minister Modi characteristically made the Gujarat poll a referendum on himself. He spoke at more than 30 campaign meetings and undertook miles-long roadshows to woo voters and grab saturation coverage on news networks. On the stump, he invoked Gujarati 'asmita', or pride, and implored the voters to "trust" him and the BJP government.
"You don't expect the prime minister to expend so much time and energy in a state election," says Amit Dholakia, a professor of political science at Gujarat's Maharaja Sayajirao University.
Modi's ideology of strident Hindu nationalism, combined with promises of economic development, remains a big draw with voters in the state. Religious riots convulsed Gujarat shortly after he first gained power in 2002, but that evidently did not dent his popularity. Gujarat outpaces most of India in investment and per capita income, and boasts the country's fourth-largest economy.
However, as elsewhere in India, jobs are drying up and prices are rising. And Gujarat has lagged behind less rich states in health indicators like infant and maternal mortality rates. — Agencies
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