Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set to gain a major boost to his 2019 re-election hopes, with exit polls indicating his party is well ahead of rivals in the country’s most populous state after voting in the 2017 assembly elections.

The vote, which came to a close Wednesday, had been viewed as a major test of whether Modi’s popularity, which swept him to power in 2014 with the biggest electoral mandate in India in three decades, remained intact. And his performance in Uttar Pradesh, home to 204 million people, about the same population as Brazil, has been monitored particularly closely.

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Exit polls released Thursday indicated Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a healthy lead over rivals but falling short of the 202 seats required to gain a majority in the Assembly. An alliance between the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Congress Party was set to be beaten into second place. The BJP has not held power in Uttar Pradesh since 2002 and in the last election it received just 47 seats. A victory for the BJP there would be seen as purely a statement of Modi’s enduring popularity.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is expected to challenge Modi for power in 2019.

Polls also suggested Modi’s party was set to take power from Congress in the northern state of Uttarakhand as well as the small state of Manipur, but with the vote much closer. The BJP also looked poised to retain its hold on the state of Goa.

Results were scheduled to be announced Saturday.

Modi had focused heavily on Uttar Pradesh, promising a string of investments in rural communities. As well as significant infrastructure spending, his party had vowed to provide a toilet for each household within five years along with a laptop complete with one year’s worth of free internet for the state’s youth.