Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing his first state election defeat since taking charge last year, opinion polls show, a result that would dent his chances of consolidating power needed to speed up an economic recovery.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has ordered scores of its top national and state leaders to campaign for this weekend’s high-profile election to the Delhi assembly where a small anti-corruption party is threatening to stop its momentum.
But even the appointment of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to oversee the campaign while he is writing this month’s national budget may not be enough.
“This is the first time that we may see Modi’s momentum stopped and that will be a shock,” said Satish Misra, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation. “Despite putting every last drop of energy into this campaign, it looks like the BJP is heading for defeat.”
Modi needs to win most of the state elections over the next four years to gain control of both houses of parliament to deliver on his promise of jobs and economic growth. The Rajya Sabha, where his party is in a minority, is frustrating his efforts to pass laws related to tax and foreign investment.