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Modi's Victory and the BJP's Future

Will Modi Remake the Party?

Supporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate after learning of the initial poll results outside the party headquarters in New Delhi, India, March 11, 2017. Adnan Abidi / Reuters

There are victories, and then there are victories. Last weekend’s electoral triumph by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the pivotal north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is of the latter sort. In an outcome that shocked analysts, political rivals, and even some on the winning side, an alliance led by BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi won 325 out of 403 seats on offer in the state assembly, a humiliating defeat for opposition forces. In the four other states that also went to polls, the BJP is set to form governments in as many as three. 

Short of actually winning a national election, UP is undoubtedly the biggest prize on the electoral map. Home to more than 200 million people, if UP were a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest. It is also the metaphorical heart of the Hindi heartland, the home state of many a prime minister,

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