A state election in India reinforces Narendra Modi’s grip on power

Modi’s supporters in New Delhi celebrate his big victory in crucial Uttar Pradesh

BIG SEEMS TOO SMALL A WORD TO DESCRIBE THE NORTHERN Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Spread over an area roughly the size of Britain, UP is home to about 220 million people—more than the populations of Germany, France and Italy together. With scale comes political heft. Nine out of India’s 15 Prime Ministers landed in New Delhi via UP, including the incumbent, Narendra Modi, whose parliamentary constituency, Varanasi, is in the state. UP also sends 80 members to the powerful lower house of the national parliament, way more than any other Indian territory. It is the political engine room of the world’s largest democracy.

Thus, when UP began voting in state polls last month, just over halfway through Modi’s five-year term, all of India sat up and paid attention. And so did many outside India, given the country’s growing influence on the world stage.

Modi, 66,

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