torsdag 10. februar 2022

India’s biggest state begins voting in key test of Narendra Modi popularity

India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, has begun voting in the first of a series of local elections that will be a test of the popularity of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his ruling party. With a population almost as big as that of Brazil, keeping power in the bellwether state would bolster the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in its claim for a third successive victory at nationwide parliamentary polls due by 2024.

In Vrindavan, a Hindu holy city about 100 miles (160km) south of India’s capital, New Delhi, saffron-clad monks bundled up against the winter cold waited in line with other local people to cast their votes. “If people want to have a good government, they have to come out to vote,” said Acharya Udit Narayan Diwedi, 41, who said he voted for the BJP. Defeat in Uttar Pradesh, or in any of the other three states it holds that also stage elections this month, would add to pressure on the Hindu nationalist party amid criticism of high unemployment and its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.