Major Indian parties face test in key state poll
May 12 2018 09:50 AM
Karnataka election

Dpa/New Delhi

Millions of voters cast their ballots Saturday in  elections in India's Karnataka state, seen as a high-stakes testing ground for the country's main political parties ahead of general polls in 2019.

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is locked in a contest with the Indian National Congress which rules the southern state, home to ‘India's Silicon Valley’ in Bengaluru.

Almost 50 million people were eligible to vote for the 222 assembly seats in the day-long polling and the results are due to be announced on Tuesday, the Election Commission said.

The polls were bitterly fought by both parties, who are treating it as a bellwether ahead of national elections next year.

The elections are crucial for the Congress, once India's pre-eminent party which has been in a state of decline. It has lost most of the recent state elections and Karnataka is among the last major Indian states it rules.

A victory would boost the leadership of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and build the party's momentum for the general elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP is also eyeing a win in Karnataka that will give it a toehold in southern India.

A win would also bolster the BJP brighten its prospects as Modi seeks a second term in elections next year.

The BJP draws its core support in the northern and western states and has little presence in southern states that are dominated by regional parties.

Three other states will go to polls later this year.

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