State-level administrations and their powerful Chief Ministers are an important part of Mr. Modi’s plan to bolster economic growth. A large number of policies — including those on investment, official clearances and land acquisition — are implemented by States, though formulated by the Central Government…
India’s governing party won significant victories in two State elections, a broad endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ’s agenda for economic revival. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu nationalist roots, emerged as the biggest party in the State legislatures of Maharashtra, home of Indian financial capital Mumbai, and in relatively industrialised Haryana in northern India. The victories in regions that aren’t traditional BJP strongholds dealt a blow to the Congress party, which has been reeling since its defeat by the BJP in national elections in May after a decade in power. Congress-led Governments had governed Maharashtra for 15 years and Haryana for 10 years.
State-level administrations and their powerful Chief Ministers are an important part of Mr. Modi’s plan to bolster economic growth. A large number of policies—including those on investment, official clearances and land acquisition—are implemented by States, though formulated by the Central Government. The election results could give Mr. Modi an opportunity to push for more far-reaching economic liberalisation before the annual budget is due in February.
After exit polls showed the BJP in the lead in the two State elections, the Government moved to end state controls on diesel prices, a step aimed at attracting investment in India’s fuel industry and reducing subsidy costs. The BJP captured 122 of the 288 seats in the Maharashtra legislature, making it the largest party but leaving it short of an outright majority though there was little doubt it would take charge of the State. In Haryana, the party won 47 of 90 seats, enough to form a Government comfortanly.
Mr. Modi, who served as Chief Minister of the western State of Gujarat for 13 years, has promoted what he calls “cooperative federalism” for close coordination between Central and State Governments. He is also hoping to roll out a number of politically difficult economic overhauls through States, particularly those controlled by his party, in an effort to create broader support for such measures. The BJP Government in Rajasthan Stateis now at the forefront of change in rigid labor and land laws. Recent results will boost the BJP’s efforts to become a truly pan-Indian party. The party, which came into existence in its current form in 1980, has led only one full-term federal Government, while Congress has governed India for most of its post-independence history. ”Long before these elections, our Prime Minister said that we have to work toward a Congress-free India,” Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Commerce Minister, said in a televised interview. “Slowly but surely, that is happening.” The results raise the pressure on Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, to devise a strategy to re-energise the party, which has suffered a sharp decline in popularity.