India’s opposition Congress party has won power in a key state, partial election results showed, defeating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP a year ahead of national polls.
It removed Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party from office in Karnataka, the only southern state controlled by the Hindu nationalist grouping.
With dozens of results still to come in on Saturday, Congress had already won 114 places in the 224-seat assembly, enough for an overall majority, and was leading in another 22, which would give it a comfortable cushion, the election commission website showed.
Karnataka has a population of more than 60 million people – about the same as the United Kingdom – and its capital Bengaluru is India’s tech hub. The state voted on Wednesday and full results are expected later Saturday.
It is the second state Modi’s party has lost to the Congress party in the last six months. In December, Congress unseated BJP in northern Himachal Pradesh, a small state tucked in the Himalayas.
The poll results are expected to energise the largely divided opposition that is banking on forming a united front to challenge Modi in next year’s general election, in which he will seek to extend his prime ministership for a third consecutive term.