Indian ruling BJP makes big gains in state polls

AP News
Posted: Oct 19, 2014 10:49 AM
Indian ruling BJP makes big gains in state polls

NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political party made huge election gains Sunday in two Indian states, according to official results.

The Bharatiya Janata Party won majority in Haryana and took the most seats in Maharashtra, where the financial capital of Mumbai is located. The votes were seen as confirming Modi's popularity five months after he became prime minister, while giving him a further boost in support for pushing through promised economic reforms.

"The results have proved that, like a tsunami, the Modi-wave is demolishing all opposition," BJP leader Amit Shah told reporters.

Modi had campaigned aggressively in the run up to the Oct. 15 poll, as the BJP ran on its own for the first time in both Haryana and Maharashtra and exhorted voters to cast their ballots for Modi — widely seen as a leader who can turn around India's sluggish economy and attract more foreign investment.

Both states had previously been run by the Congress party, which lost national elections in May.

By Sunday evening, the Election Commission of India confirmed the BJP had won 120 of the 288 seats in Maharashtra's state legislature and was leading for the last two seats still being tallied Sunday night. The second-highest vote-getter was the local Shiv Sena party, which won 63 seats, according to the partial results. Congress took 42.

In Haryana, the BJP had won a majority with 47 of the state's 90 seats, putting the party in position to lead the state for the first time. The local Indian National Lok Dal party won 19 seats, while Congress trailed with 15.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi congratulated the BJP on the results, saying: "People have voted for change, after 15 years of our government in Maharashtra and 10 years in Haryana."

State elections also decide who controls the Rajya Sabha, or upper house of India's Parliament. Maharashtra sends 19 lawmakers to the 245-member Rajya Sabha and Haryana sends five. While the Lok Sabha, or lower house, is significantly more powerful, the Rajya Sabha can delay legislation.