Key test for Modi as 5 Indian states head to polls

NEW DELHI • Five Indian states representing more than 160 million voters will go to the polls in the next two months, officials said yesterday, a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his shock currency move.

They include India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, where Mr Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to claw back power after performing well in national elections in 2014.

The elections will begin on Feb 4, nearly three months after Mr Modi announced he was scrapping nearly 86 per cent of all Indian currency, a move aimed at curbing widespread tax evasion.

The northern states of Punjab and Uttarakhand, Goa in the west and Manipur in the north-east will also elect new governments in the elections, which go on until March 8, with results due three days later.

"All five states will go to election in one go," Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi told reporters.

BJP needs to win state elections to gain more seats in the nation's Upper House of Parliament. The party currently rules in Goa and Punjab, while the opposition Congress party is in power in Manipur and Uttarakhand.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Key test for Modi as 5 Indian states head to polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe