ASSESSMENTS

Elections Outside India’s Hindi Heartland Will Test the BJP’s Reach

MIN READMar 25, 2021 | 18:38 GMT

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a campaign rally for his Bharatiya Janata Party in Kolkata, West Bengal, on March 7, 2021.

(DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Upcoming state elections will test Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s ability to expand beyond its traditional heartland, particularly in northeastern India. Electoral victories would improve Modi’s ability to effectively implement his economic and political reform policies at the local level. Five states or union territories -- Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal -- will hold legislative elections starting March 27. The east Indian state of Bihar held an election late last year. But this wave of upcoming ballots marks India’s first major state election season since the onset of both the COVID-19 pandemic and protests against India’s agricultural reforms. All of the states holding elections are outside of the Hindi heartland, the BJP’s stronghold, and are known for their powerful regional parties....

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