BJP’s defeat in Bihar election a major blow for Modi

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 8 (APP): India’s governing Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) has conceded defeat in the key state election in Bihar,
in what is being seen as a major blow for Indian Prime Minister,
Narendra Modi.
According to media reports, Nitish Kumar, the incoming Chief
Minister, said on Twitter on Sunday that Modi had called him and congratulated him on his party’s victory in Bihar, one of India’s
largest and poorest states.
Election Commission results showed Modi’s BJP leading in
only 52 seats in the 243-seat state assembly compared to 158
for Kumar’s coalition of regional parties, as vote counting
continues.
Modi had mounted a no-holds-barred campaign in Bihar,
addressing about 30 rallies and promising voters billions
of rupees for development in a state with some of
India’s highest malnutrition and illiteracy levels.
The election for the state assembly was seen as a critical
test of Modi’s popularity after he swept to power in national
polls in May 2014, promising ambitious reforms to revive the
faltering economy.
As the contest tightened in recent weeks, the campaign
shifted to bitter issues along religious and caste lines which
have traditionally dominated the state of 100 million people.
The BJP needed a win after suffering a defeat in February
elections for the Delhi state assembly to a fledgling
anti-corruption party.
Assembly elections are important not only because state
leaders wield significant power, but because parties gain seats
in India’s upper house of parliament, where the BJP lacks a
majority.
The campaign had been dogged by religious tensions after
several Muslims were killed in India in separate incidents by
Hindu mobs.