Modi’s Maharani fights key Indian state election

Modi’s Maharani fights key Indian state election

JOGHPUR, India: The Indian state of Rajasthan voted Friday in an election that is a key test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with a local princess representing his party facing a tough fight to stay in power.
The vote in the western state famous for its palaces and forts, home to 47 million people, is one of five state elections before Modi runs for a second term in national polls in 2019.
Results from Rajasthan, as well as for Telangana, also voting on Friday, plus Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram — which have already cast ballots — will be published on December 12.
Vasundhara Raje, Rajasthan’s chief minister and a charismatic “Maharani” or female Maharaja representing Modi’s BJP, swept to power in a landslide in 2013.
But her personal popularity has waned, with critics calling her as autocratic and out of touch of the interests of ordinary people.
Her government has also been criticized for her handling of caste protests and for failing to boost investment and create jobs.
The election is seen as something of a dry run for 2019, with Modi and his likely rival, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party, both campaigning actively in the state.

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