PM Narendra Modi faces biggest election test since 2014 landslide
Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces his biggest electoral test since coming to power when the battleground of Uttar Pradesh, which he swept three years ago, holds an election starting on Saturday.
In the biggest democratic exercise on the planet this year, voting will take place in seven stages over a month to elect a new assembly to govern the mostly poor state of nearly 220 million people that lies along the river Ganges.
More broadly, voters will deliver a mid-term verdict on PM Modi and BJP as India recovers from his boldest decision yet: to abolish 86 per cent of the cash in circulation.
The banknote ban, launched by PM Modi three months ago to purge the economy of untaxed income and proceeds of crime and corruption, has disrupted daily life and commerce, and caused the economy to decelerate.
On the campaign trail, PM Modi has said he had the interests of the poor at heart in making the move – the biggest gamble of his prime ministership. A strong showing at the polls would strengthen his chances of a second term in 2019.
“The results will tell us whether Modi continues to enjoy unquestioned support or if it has started to erode,” said RK Mishra, an independent political analyst based in the state capital, Lucknow.