Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the campaign trail in a state election that could define the rest of his term, promising jobs and development in one of the country’s most backward areas, while his right-wing party pushes a Hindu agenda.
Braving the scorching sun, thousands of men and women clad in bright shirts and saris trudged miles to Modi’s campaign rally last week in the state of Bihar. Voting to the legislature there will start on Monday and the result will be out on Nov. 8.
Modi’s message to nearly 100,000 people gathered near the banks of the sacred Ganges river was that only his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could make one of India’s poorest regions an industrial powerhouse like his home state of Gujarat.
“A BJP government in Bihar will help us work seamlessly to create jobs for the youth, look after our farmers and ensure overall development, which is the antidote to every single problem,” Modi said, to rapturous applause.
An impressive tally in the election will give the BJP more seats in the upper house of parliament in New Delhi, where it lacks a majority, making it easier to pass legislation to modernize India’s $2 trillion economy.