India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored a landslide election win in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat on Thursday, in a boost for the leader and his Hindu-nationalist party ahead of the 2024 general election.
The BJP took 156 of 182 total seats in the Gujarat state assembly following voting earlier this month, marking the party’s best-ever performance in the state, a longtime BJP stronghold.
The main opposition Indian National Congress won 17 seats, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took five.
The election – and the margin of victory – in the state of more than 60 million has been closely watched as a test of Modi’s popularity ahead of India’s next general election, when he is expected to seek a third term.
In a comment posted to Twitter Thursday evening, the Prime Minister thanked the people of Gujarat and said he was “overcome with a lot of emotions” to see the results.
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“People blessed politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace,” Modi wrote.
In another state election in the northern region of Himachal Pradesh, Congress won 40 out of the 68 total assembly seats and will now form a government. The BJP won 25 seats and three went to independent candidates, with results from the state of around 6 million also announced Thursday.
Despite what critics say are economic headwinds and growing religious intolerance in India under Modi, he maintains strong support among the country’s Hindu majority.
He campaigned extensively in the lead-up to the election in Gujarat, where the BJP has ruled for more than a quarter century. Modi led the state as chief minister for more than a decade before coming to power as Prime Minister in 2014.
Modi was chief minister during 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in the state, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.