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Gujarat’s December elections will be a test for Modi

VOTERS in Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat will go to the polls in December, the election commission announced last Wednesday (25), in what will be a key test for India’s prime minister.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled the state for more than two decades, and a win there would further cement his prospects of se­curing a second term at general elections in 2019.

Nearly 43 million voters in Gujarat will cast ballots to elect 182 lawmakers, with the results announced on December 18. “Assembly elec­tions in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14,” AK Joti, India’s chief elec­tion commissioner, told reporters in New Delhi.

The BJP has dominated Gujarat since 1998, winning all four state polls, including three under Modi (right). December vote could prove trickier, with speculation Gujarat’s powerful trading com­munities could vent their disapproval over Modi’s economic reforms at the ballot box.

The main opposition Congress Party is seizing on anger over Modi’s controversial decision to scrap India’s highest-value banknotes and intro­duce a goods and services tax, two measures which disrupted businesses in the wealthy state.

Modi headed Gujarat until taking office in Delhi in 2014 after his party swept the national elections.