India’s Ruling Congress Party Faces Massive Defeats In State Elections

Initial election results indicate India’s Congress party suffered major defeats in key state elections, damaging its bid to remain in power in next year’s general elections.

Supporters of BJP candidate for Delhi CM Vardhan celebrate in New Delhi. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

India’s long-ruling Congress Party faced major defeats in state elections Sunday, early results showed, painting a grim outlook for the party’s bid to maintain power in next year’s general elections, according to Reuters.

India, the world’s largest democracy, will vote in a general election due by next May.

Voters, angered by corruption and rising prices in the country, sided with opposition parties such as the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — rebuking the Congress party, which has ruled for much of the last 66 years since the nation’s independence.

Arvind Kejriwal ©, leader of the newly formed Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, gestures before addressing the media after his election win against Delhi’s chief minister Sheila Dikshit. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

BJP candidates won in all four races and the new, anti-corruption Aam Aadmi party made an impressive debut in the capital city of New Delhi, the Washington Post reports.

Celebrations erupted outside of BJP offices throughout the states with supporters taking to the streets with fireworks and sweets.

A performer blows fire from his mouth as he performs outside the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. Ahmad Masood / Reuters

Exit polls over the last few weeks indicated sweeping victories for the party ahead of Sunday’s “counting day” results — a clear response to growing opposition to the ruling party, which recently has been accused of ineptitude. However, questions remain as to whether BJP can continue its momentum into the general election next year and elect the party’s candidate for for prime minister, Narendra Modi.

“BJP’s victory across the states is spectacular,” Modi said on Twitter. “The total number of seats Congress has won in all the four states today cannot even match the seats [BJP] won in 1 state!”

In the final tally, BJP won 408 out of 589 seats across the states, which is near 70% of the total seats decided, he said.

(From L - R) India’s BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, Gujarat’s chief minister and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for BJP and leader Arun Jaitley show victory signs. Ahmad Masood / Reuters

A fifth state will learn its results Monday.

The Congress party’s defeats call for “deep introspection,” said Sonia Gandhi, the president of the party, with Rahul Gandhi — her son and heir — at her side. “Obviously, people aren’t happy; otherwise they wouldn’t have given such result.”

Sonia Gandhi speaks as her son, lawmaker Rahul Gandhi, watches during a news conference in New Delhi. Stringer/India / Reuters

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