India's Modi faces test in home state as Gujarat votes

2017-12-09 18:13
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a traditional turban, waves during an election campaign rally at Surendranagar in Gujarat.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a traditional turban, waves during an election campaign rally at Surendranagar in Gujarat.

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Ahmedabad - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat went to the polls on Saturday, in a key electoral test of his popularity after a series of controversial economic reforms.

Voters, with their election cards in hand, started lining up at polling booths early in the morning in Gujarat where Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has held power for 22 years.

"Urging all those voting today (on Saturday) to turnout in record numbers and vote. I particularly call upon youngsters to exercise their franchise," Modi, who forged his political career in Gujarat, tweeted on Saturday.

Modi built his reputation as an economic reformer in Gujarat which boomed under his rule, attracting investments from around the globe.

But his recent reforms - a new national tax and a shock currency ban to fight graft - have hit India's growth and hurt the very constituency of traders and small business owners who were his biggest supporters in the western state, polls found.

Experts say this election is a serious challenge to Modi as his rivals ride a wave of discontent over the stuttering economy, adding that voter anger over the reforms and a desire for change could boost the flagging fortunes of the opposition Congress Party.

Read more on:    narendra modi  |  india  |  elections

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