Asia

India state polls test Modi popularity after currency chaos

  • In this photo taken Feb. 2, 2017, a supporter applauds as he listens to Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Sunil Choudhary during a election campaign in Bahlolpur village in Noida, India. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

    In this photo taken Feb. 2, 2017, a supporter applauds as he listens to Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate Sunil Choudhary during a election campaign in Bahlolpur village in Noida, India. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, photo, supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party raise slogans in support of a candidate filing nominations for state elections in Allahabad, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

    In this Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, photo, supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party raise slogans in support of a candidate filing nominations for state elections in Allahabad, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2014, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the country's Independence Day in New Delhi, India. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2014, file photo, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the country's Independence Day in New Delhi, India. Nearly three years ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a sweeping national election victory with promises to develop the economy and root out corruption. But with a series of key state elections beginning Saturday, Modi's popularity _ and his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar _ is about to be tested. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das, File)  (The Associated Press)

A series of key state elections in India are testing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity following his surprise currency decree that sparked months of financial uproar.

India is just emerging from the fallout of the November decision, which withdrew India's two-largest currency notes from circulation and caused weeks of chaos as people waited to get their money back in new bills.

Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party hailed the move as a way to curb tax fraud and corruption. Opponents say it was a self-inflicted blow on the world's fastest growing economy, causing enormous hardship for the vast majority of Indians.

While the five state elections will not decide whether Modi remains in office, a loss would be seen as a serious blow to his political image.