AHMEDABAD, India: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party won by a crushing landslide in his home state, election results showed Thursday, in a strong performance ahead of a national vote due in 2024.
In its best-ever performance in the western state of around 60 million people, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won at least 147 seats in Gujarat’s 182-seat legislature, up from 99, and was expected to win another nine once all votes were counted.
Modi campaigned hard in Gujarat, the state where he was chief minister for 12 years before ascending to become prime minister in 2014, and which voted on December 1 and 5.
Thanking the people of Gujarat, Modi said on Twitter he was “overcome with a lot of emotion” by the results.
“People blessed politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this to continue at a greater pace,” Modi tweeted.
Modi was state premier in 2002 when around 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in one of the worst outbreaks of sectarian violence in post-independence India.
The once-mighty Congress party managed just 16 seats, its worst performance ever in the state.
The BJP also saw off a challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which governs the capital New Delhi and Punjab and which was hoping to expand its reach. It won just five seats.
The BJP has ruled Gujarat continuously for 27 years, and the party and its allies head governments in 16 of India’s 28 states.
The deep-pocketed party with a strong social media operation pulled out all the stops in the campaign, fielding many new faces including a former Congress activist, Hardik Patel, along with the wife of a star cricketer.
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a political analyst, said that the result was all the more remarkable after 135 people died in a bridge collapse in Gujarat in October that was blamed on corruption.
Voters “see their welfare in Modi’s political security,” he told AFP.
“This kind of result in Gujarat no doubt smoothens BJP’s path to 2024 (national elections).”
Earlier this year, the BJP scored a strong win in Uttar Pradesh to become the first party to win two back-to-back elections in India’s most populous state, which also sends the most members to the national parliament.
However, the BJP lost power to Congress in Himachal Pradesh, election results in the small northern state of around seven million people showed.
The next national elections in the world’s biggest democracy are due in 2024 when Modi, 72, is widely expected to run for a third term.