Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP established an early lead as votes were counted in Maharashtra and Haryana, where elections were held on Monday. The BJP, which is in power in both states – Maharashtra in alliance with the Shiv Sena – hopes to reinforce its national election victory with two more wins, with the opposition, especially the Congress and its Maharashtra ally Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar, seen to put up a weak fight. Exit polls have predicted a BJP victory in both states. A BJP win will be seen as an endorsement of the Narendra Modi government’s policies after its re-election earlier this year — including the move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) — which were the central themes of its campaign. Counting of votes for bypolls in 17 states and one union territory is also being held today.
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