Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to retain India's largest state of Uttar Pradesh, seen as the gateway to power in the 2024 general elections. This inference can be drawn from early trends showing the saffron outfit, led by monk-turned-politician Yogi Adityanath, is way ahead of the state's main opposition Samajwadi Party led by its young leader and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.

In fact, the trends indicate that the BJP has comfortably taken a lead in over 220 seats in the 403-member assembly. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party is trailing in double digits. The final results will be out later in the day.

Uttar Pradesh voted in seven phases --February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, March 3 and 7 --
adhering to all Covid-safety protocols.

While the opposition parties harped on issues like rising joblessness, high inflation and the BJP's Hindu majority politics, the BJP highlighted law-and-order problems during the Samajwadi Party rule.

Uttar Pradesh is crucial for the BJP as it's said that the road to Delhi passes through Lucknow, its capital, and the party that wins the state stands a fair chance of forming the next federal government.

Moreover, a win in Uttar Pradesh will be a major boost for the Prime Minister halfway through his second term in power. The general elections are due in India in 2024.

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