NEW DELHI, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an astounding victory Saturday in assembly polls in the politically important northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which is seen as a bellwether for 2019 general elections.
The BJP garnered over 300 seats in Uttar Pradesh's 403-member assembly, leaving less than 100 to be shared by all other parties, including the state's ruling Samajwadi Party that had entered into a pre-poll alliance with the main opposition Congress party.
The BJP also won in assembly polls in the northern state of Uttarakhand, adjacent to Uttar Pradesh. In the other two states -- Goa in the west and Manipur in northeast -- that went to polls along with Uttar Pradesh, there were direct contests between Congress and BJP.
Modi, who had personally led the campaign in Uttar Pradesh, said he was overjoyed with the "unprecedented mandate" in India's most populous state. "This is very humbling and overwhelming," he said in a series of tweets.
In Uttar Pradesh, BJP did not announce a chief ministerial candidate and Modi has been central to his party's election strategy. He had aggressively campaigned on a promise to bring growth and modernization, and root out corruption. The party has also credited the victory to his leadership.
"It proves that Modi is the most popular leader since Independence," said BJP chief Amit Shah in his victory speech at the party headquarters in the Indian capital. "The results are a victory of Modi's leadership and the mandate will take the country's politics in a new direction," he said.
Experts said the prime minister had turned the Uttar Pradesh contest into a test of his personal popularity and his radical notes ban to eliminate corruption and black money.
"The win is seen as a ringing endorsement of his high-risk decision last November to scrap 500 and 1,000 rupee notes (7.5 U.S. dollars and 15 U.S. dollars, respectively) worth 86 percent of the cash in circulation," said Prof Ajay Sharma, a Delhi-based political analyst.
"The win in Uttar Pradesh boosts his chances of winning the next general elections. It's clear he is the undisputed popular most leader of India at this time," he added.
The victory will also help improve the BJP's strength in the Rajya Sabha or upper house of Parliament, where the government is in a minority and has trouble in pushing legislation because of opposition unity.