17:48 GMT23 November 2020
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    India has witnessed its worst economic contraction, 23.9 percent, since 1996 in the wake of the COVID-induced lockdown, accompanied by rising unemployment, among other issues, in the lead-up to the Bihar state election and by-poll. Despite these problems, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity seems to have remained intact.

    Despite an economic slowdown, rising unemployment, and the migrant crisis in the wake of the COVID-induced national lockdown, Indian voters continue to repose their trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA), political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay told Sputnik.

    “The incoming state election and by-poll results are one of the greatest paradoxes of Indian politics. The voters seem to be saying that despite all the economic and other hardships, they will continue to bank on PM Modi”, states Mukhopadhyay, the biographer of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times.

    The acclaimed political pundit further underlines that Prime Minister Modi has campaigned extensively in the lead-up to the three phase Bihar state elections, the first mass voting exercise in the country since the onset of the COVID-pandemic in March.

    “The NDA (BJP-led coalition) is winning just because of Prime Minister Modi”, remarked Mukhopadhyay.

    The prime minister addressed 12 election rallies during the campaigning round for the state polls, overshadowing his alliance partner Nitish Kumar, the chief of Bihar state for 15 years and the head of the regional outfit Janata Dal (United).

    “PM Modi seems to have his finger on the pulse of the Indian voter. He seems to understand what they want from their leader”, he reckoned.

    The significant observations by Mukhopadhyay, who has researched extensively the ideology of Hindu nationalism, came against the backdrop of counting trends hinting towards a victory of the BJP-led NDA coalition in Bihar state. The early trends until evening showed that the party was emerging as the single-biggest party in the 243-member legislature.

    Almost all exit polls broadcast on Indian television on 8 November after the conclusion of voting had predicted a victory for the opposition alliance, led by Tejashwi Yadav, the 31-year-old head of the state’s main opposition party Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

    The opposition alliance also includes the country’s main federal opposition party Congress.

    Modi Wave Just Got ‘Stronger’

    Mukhopadhyay’s sentiments were echoed by Indian social media users, including senior BJP leaders, with some of them remarking that the "Modi wave" has only become stronger.

    ​BJP politician B.L. Santosh reckoned that the countrywide election results were a clear vindication of Prime Minister Modi’s handling of the COVID-pandemic.

    ​Besides Bihar, counting has also been ongoing for by-polls that took place for 56 assembly seats in 11 Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh (28 seats), Gujarat (8 seats), Uttar Pradesh (7 seats), Karnataka, Odisha, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Manipur (2 seats each), Telangana, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh (one seat each).

    While the BJP is projected to win at least 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh state, it was leading for all eight seats in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Modi.

    Gujarat’s state chief Vijay Rupani commented that the by-poll results were “just a trailer” ahead of the state polls scheduled to take place in 2022.

    Meanwhile, BJP activists across the country have started celebrating their projected election victory since afternoon, even as some opposition leaders were crying foul while staring at defeat.

     

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    COVID-19, Narendra Modi, India
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