:: Peoples Time Online ::
Early trends show India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to win a key state election but may lose another.
The BJP is set to retain power in the western state of Maharashtra, but it may fall short of a clear majority in the northern state of Haryana.
The controversial decision to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its autonomy was the BJP’s key poll plank.
The polls were seen as a referendum on PM Narendra Modi’s Kashmir policy.
On Thursday, local elections are also being held in Indian-administered Kashmir. But with most of the state’s political leaders in detention, and a crippling communications blockade that is now in its second month, opposition leaders are calling the elections a “sham” and a “joke on democracy”.
These polls are the first in the region since the government changed its status.
But in the other states, the BJP used its Kashmir move to tell voters that the party had the ability to take tough decisions on national security. It largely relied on Mr Modi’s policy of muscular nationalism and local issues were less talked about in its campaigns.
Maharashtra witnessed aggressive campaigning by the prime minister and several federal ministers. Its ally Shiv Sena also held rallies across the state.
Haryana, which borders the Indian capital, Delhi, also witnessed rallies and aggressive campaigning by the BJP.
Nevertheless, the Congress party is projected to increase its vote share in Haryana, upsetting the BJP’s mission of retaining power. Several BJP ministers are trailing.
The BJP is still projected to be the single-largest party, but it will need support from the regional Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) to form a government.
It’s not clear whether the JJP will support the Congress or the BJP.