Indian princess in Modi's party faces tough election fight in key state

Ms Vasundhara Raje, Rajasthan's chief minister and a charismatic "Maharani" or female Maharaja representing Mr Modi's BJP, swept to power in a landslide in 2013.
Ms Vasundhara Raje, Rajasthan's chief minister and a charismatic "Maharani" or female Maharaja representing Mr Modi's BJP, swept to power in a landslide in 2013.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

JODHPUR, INDIA (AFP) - The Indian state of Rajasthan voted on Friday (Dec 7) in an election that is a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a local princess representing his party facing a tough fight to stay in power.

The vote in the western state famous for its palaces and forts, home to 47 million people, is one of five state elections before Mr Modi runs for a second term in national polls in 2019.

Results from Rajasthan, as well as for Telangana, also voting on Friday, plus Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram - which have already cast ballots - will be published next Wednesday.

Ms Vasundhara Raje, Rajasthan's chief minister and a charismatic "Maharani" or female Maharaja representing Mr Modi's BJP, swept to power in a landslide in 2013.

But her personal popularity has waned, with critics calling her autocratic and out of touch with the interests of ordinary people.

Her government has also been criticised over her handling of caste protests and for failing to boost investment and create jobs.

The election is seen as something of a dry run for 2019, with Mr Modi and his likely rival, Mr Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party, both campaigning actively in the state.