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dia's ruling party was on its way to a crucial victory at the polls, in one of its big southern states on Tuesday. A win in Karnataka's State Assembly election would be a huge boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP Party. Victory would cement his popularity ahead of next year's general elections.
It would also silent critics who have attacked Modi over the rocky introduction of a nationwide sales tax and a ban on high value bank notes in 2016. India's Election Commission said Modi's BJP was leading in 114 seats of the 225 seat State Assembly. The opposition Congress Party, meanwhile, was leading in just 55 seats.
A BJP win would be a big upset for Congress' President Rahul Gandhi. He's a fifth generation heir to the Nehru Gandhi political dynasty. Congress currently rules Karnataka State, but Modi has continuously trumped Gandhi in popularity. One recent survey said nine out of ten Indians held a favorable opinion of Modi and more than two-thirds said they were happy with the direction he was taking the country in.
A win for the BJP could also dispel investor concerns that Modi may double down on populist plans like extending loan waivers for farmers ahead of the elections. Right now, the Modi-led party have a foothold on 21 out of 29 Indian states. They're mostly in the country's north and west and a win in Karnataka would be a much needed inroad for the BJP into the country's south.
Karnataka is home to the technology hub of Bengaluru and is the first major state electing an assembly this year.