Saffron sweep for BJP in UP, Modi wave swamps rivals

In a spectacular saffron sweep, the Bharatiya Janata Party is heading for a landslide victory in assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state and the epicentre of the country’s politics.
Latest trends indicate that the BJP, which heads the ruling coalition at the Centre, looks set to gain over 300 seats in the 403-seat assembly in UP.
It’s clearly a big moment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who campaigned extensively across the seat and staked his personal reputation in the UP elections. Mr Modi’s charisma and his rallying slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” (inclusive development) seems to have smashed the entrenched caste arithmetic that had traditionally worked in favour of regional parties like Samajwadi Party and BSP in the past. The electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh bears the Modi stamp, but it could not have been possible without 24×7 strategizing and organisational skills of BJP president Amit Shah.
The BJP’s victory is also seen as a big endorsement for Mr Modi’s controversial demonetisation, which was aimed at cleansing black money out of the system. Demonetisation was widely criticised by some opposition parties, but the BJP’s victory in India’s most populous state is expected to silence all critics.

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Exit polls upbeat about BJP’s prospects in UP

Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead in the key state of Uttar Pradesh while Congress is poised to return to power in the northern state of Punjab after a ten-year hiatus.
Most of the exit polls are unanimous that BJP is expected to return to power in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand the coastal state of Goa.
The BJP also appears set to win north-eastern state of Manipur from the Congress. If that happens in actual counting of ballots on March 11, this will be the second state in the region to have a BJP government after Assam.
However, here is a word of caution: Indian exit polls often go off the mark.
The high-pitched Assembly elections in the five states of UP, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur concluded on March 8 with the last phase polling in Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. The polling in all other states – Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand – came to an end earlier.

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‘Hate killing’ of Indian in Kansas: Sifting rhetoric from facts

Was it a hate crime? Was US President Donald Trump, with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, complicit in the racially motivated killing of a young Indian IT professional by an enraged drunk white man in Kansas? These are all-too-real questions to ask, but are not of much solace to the wife of Sunayana Dumala, whose husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla, was killed at Austins Bar and Grill in Kansas on February 23.
For the 32-year-old Kuchibhotla, it was a tragic and violent end to his American dream, which was all the more saddening as it happened in “a country he loved so much,” as his wife said. “Get out of my country,” – these were the last words yelled out by his killer he heard before he was shot dead by Adam Purinton, an American charged for drunk driving more than once.
This is a huge presumption of innocence as hate killings like these, though perpetrated by maniacs, feed on an atmosphere of jingoism and racism.
The insane killing like this one is clearly a morale dampener for the over 3-million strong Indian community that has made America their home. The incident questions the foundational myth of America as a country welcoming of immigrants. In the days to come, as New Delhi builds ties with the new US administration, it should carefully monitor rhetoric emanating from white supremacists in Washington as it could unintentionally endanger the lives of Indians who have enriched their adopted country in countless ways, but are now vulnerable to xenophobes of all stripes.

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