Tuesday, June 28, 2022

BJP loses state election amid protests over citizenship law

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party lost control of another state on Monday, adding to a string of electoral losses since last December amid protests that mark the biggest challenge to the Hindu-nationalist leader.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) conceded defeat in Jharkhand, with an alliance of the main opposition Congress party and a regional bloc slated to take control of the resource-rich province.

“I dedicate this victory to the people of Jharkhand,” Hemant Soren, leader of the regional Jharkhand Mukti Morcha party, said after claiming victory.

The loss comes in the middle of a sometimes deadly wave of nationwide protests triggered by a new citizenship law, which critics say discriminates against Muslims and has brought thousands of people out on to the streets in opposition.

The polls in Jharkhand opened on Nov. 30, before the demonstrations kicked off and do not represent the current public mood. However, the BJP’s defeat will be a shot in the arm for India’s opposition parties, some of which have used popular anger against the Citizenship Amendment Act to their advantage.

But groups opposed to the law gathered in the southern cities of Bangalore and Chennai, the capital New Delhi and north eastern Assam state, in the latest demonstrations against the CAA and the Modi government’s proposal to conduct a nationwide National Register of Citizens.

In Assam, protests have been held since Dec. 10, initially turning violent but largely peaceful over the past week.

Assam’s finance minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, told reporters that since Dec. 10, 393 people have been arrested for arson, violence and looting and 10 for “inflammatory” social media posts.

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