NEW DELHI (AFP) – Narendra Modi’s party staunchly denied Sunday that India’s prime minister was facing his first election defeat since storming to power last year, even though exit polls tipped an anti-corruption camapaigner to win New Delhi’s state polls.
Six exit polls released hours after voting ended on Saturday indicated the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had comfortably beaten Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Although the polls have been inaccurate in the past, a loss for Modi would set back his plans to consolidate power in the national parliament to push through promised economic reforms.
Victory for Kejriwal would mark a stunning comeback for the anti-graft champion who resigned following a chaotic 49-day spell in charge of the Delhi state government a year ago. A win would also be particularly sweet for former tax official Kejriwal, who was trounced by Modi when they battled for the same seat in May’s general election. The AAP won only four seats nationally.
A BJP leader refused to throw in the towel Sunday, saying official results released on Tuesday would show a different story.
“The results will defy the exit poll predictions as BJP will emerge victorious and will definitely form the next government,” Ramesh Bidhuri, general secretary of the BJP’s Delhi party, told AFP.