NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s election authority started counting votes Thursday in five states’ elections that are a crucial test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party before national elections in 2024.
All results are expected to be available later in the day.
The BJP has won emphatically twice on the national stage under Modi, whose brand of muscular nationalism has made him India’s most prominent politician in decades. His party already held four of the five states — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa — where voters went to the polls over a month to cast their ballots.
Most exit polls suggest the BJP will retain power in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with over 230 million people. The key northern state is governed by Yogi Adityanath, a highly divisive Hindu monk-turned-politician whose rise has been marked by anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence.
In Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa states, Modi’s party is expected to hold power on its own or with regional allies, the exit polls predicted.
The Congress party is expected to lose power in northern Punjab state to the Aam Aadmi Party, which was formed in 2013 to eliminate corruption and has since governed Delhi for two consecutive terms.