NEW DELHI – Voters in the western Indian state of Gujarat are casting ballots in local elections that are seen as a crucial test of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.
Saturday's polls are the first of two phases of voting in the state that Modi ruled as chief minister for over a decade before he led his party to a sweeping victory in national elections in 2014.
A second round of voting will take place Thursday before votes are counted Dec. 18.
Modi and dozens of top leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP have been campaigning in Gujarat for the last month.
The state has more than 42 million registered voters. The winning party needs to take 92 seats in the 182-seat legislative assembly.