Local government elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP)—India’s most populous state—will conclude today. The elections’ four rounds of voting commenced on
Local government elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP)—India’s most populous state—will conclude today.
The elections’ four rounds of voting commenced on April 15 in the state of over 200 million people to elect 200,000 representatives to village, block and district councils as well as mayoral posts.
Today’s elections are a litmus test for the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing coalition in UP, a stronghold of Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While overall results are expected to favor the BJP, opposition parties may make gains, especially in rural areas where farmer discontent over recent agrarian reforms will likely coalesce alongside rising concern over Modi’s COVID-19 crisis management.
Modi’s management of the current deadly COVID-19 second wave will be crucial. Given growing criticism of inadequate oxygen supplies and slow vaccination rates, expect a further delegation of pandemic decision-making to the Indian states—likely designed to deflect blame if the crisis worsens. Modi’s high nationwide popularity is likely to remain in the short-term, given the lack of a viable opposition. However, if opposition electoral gains outperform expectations in UP, cracks may begin to form in Modi’s appeal in the upcoming 2024 general elections.