“In India, Modi’s party shows its might in state elections,” proclaimed the heading of the New York Times’ report on the prime minister’s newest electoral triumphs – in the swing state of Himachal Pradesh, and his home turf, Gujarat.
While Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won convincingly in Himachal Pradesh, it won far less than the 150 Gujarat assembly seats its party chief Amit Shah hoped it would. With wins in 99 constituencies, the BJP scraped past the 92-seat-mark: a “rocky victory,” said a CNBC report.
BJP president Amit Shah delighted in a victory that he believes bolsters his party’s chances of winning parliamentary elections in 2019. But his party’s ‘frenemy’ in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena, thinks the Gujarat election results should “send alarms bells ringing” for the BJP. Rahul Gandhi’s Indian National Congress, whose fierce, determined campaign did not pay off, claimed a moral win. Mamata Banerjee spoke of a moral defeat for Modi’s party.
Here’s how some international media outlets reported on the Gujarat election win, in five points.
FORMIDABLE: The New York Times report said the Bharatiya Janata Party seemed to “continue to be a formidable political force.” It won in spite of its rivals’ “aggressive campaigning” and “talk about rising discontent over India’s economy, unemployment and poor public services,” the report added.
VOTERS ‘BITE BACK’: The Times may have focused on the BJP’s “might” in its headline, but CNBC wasn’t quite so kind. “India’s voters bite back against Prime Minister Modi’s economic reforms,” it wrote above an article that quoted a top executive at London & Capital as saying “there had clearly been a “hangover” from the upheaval caused by the GST’s implementation, which he expected to continue into the fourth quarter of this year.” But the same executive told Bloomberg the nationwide tax was a “game-changer.”
POPULIST SPENDING: Bloomberg published its report on the Gujarat election at 3:40 pm yesterday, when the tally of actual results and trends reflected the final result: 99 to BJP, 77 to Congress. Bloomberg’s report said that if the margin of the BJP’s win were narrower, Narendra Modi could “resort to populist spending to boost support” before the Lok Sabha elections. Such a move, it said risked “widening India’s already bloated budget deficit and pressure the battered bond market,” and “embolden(ing)” Rahul Gandhi, who “tapped into discontent against Modi’s economic policies” before next year’s assembly elections in Karnataka, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajastham, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
CNBC, too, quoted an analyst as saying he expected Modi’s party to “opt for more forms of traditional economic populism” in 2018.
BELLWETHER: The assembly election in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most state and home to the highest number of Lok Sabha seats, was considered a mid-term test for Narendra Modi and the BJP. “Bellwether” was a word used by reports on the Gujarat Assembly election result on at least two foreign news websites: the BBC’s and Bloomberg’s.
RAHUL GANDHI LEAVES ‘COCOON’: Newly-appointed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi “came out of his cocoon” before the Gujarat vote and “spiritedly picked up the gauntlet against” Narendra Modi, the BBC said in its report. It added that Rahul “shrugged off his characteristic indecisiveness,” and “gave a fright” to the BJP, but also that “many believe” he “missed a really good chance of winning this election.”