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Hard-Fought Poll in India’s South Hands Modi Fragile Victory

Hard-Fought Poll in India’s South Hands Modi Fragile Victory

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has eked out a narrow, uncertain victory following a bitterly-fought state election in the south Indian state of Karnataka, with its minority government sworn in this morning.

The Bharatiya Janata Party gained Karnataka after a series of twists and turns and a rare pre-dawn court intervention, setting the stage for behind-the-scenes political maneuvering to prove its majority. The BJP won 104 seats in Karnataka’s 224-member legislature, more than any other party but eight short of the majority, according to the Election Commission of India. Modi’s party has been given 15 days by the governor to get the required number.

The opposition parties challenged the governor’s actions and petitioned the Supreme Court to stay the swearing in ceremony. The top court, which started the hearing around 2 a.m. local time Thursday and ended about at 5.25 a.m., said the formation of the government is subject to final outcome of the case.

A successful outcome is key to rejuvenate party members and reverse Modi’s declining popularity after several local defeats in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. By extending the BJP’s rule to south India, outside the Hindu nationalist party’s traditional support bases in northern and western India, gives them much needed momentum for 2019 federal polls.

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