* Results of India's biggest state election on Saturday
* Modi's party ahead in exit polls, may miss majority
* Big BJP win could spur new round of reforms
* TV-Modi's mid-term test: reut.tv/2msAeXv
By Rupam Jain and Tommy Wilkes
NEW DELHI, March 11 Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi will learn on Saturday whether his popularity is
sufficient to clinch a win for his party in the country's most
populous state, where its sights are set on an absolute majority
to consolidate its position.
Modi campaigned for more than two months to win the northern
state of Uttar Pradesh, the most important election he has faced
since triumphing in the 2014 general election.
As the campaign 'face' of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Modi, and his election strategist Amit Shah, can take credit if
they win - but may face a backlash from sidelined party elders
if they come up short.
"The results will redefine the prime minister's political
destiny and his future course of action," an aide to Modi in the
capital, New Delhi, told Reuters.
Post-election surveys suggest Modi has done enough to come
first in Uttar Pradesh, home to one in six Indians, but may fall
short of an outright majority in the 403-seat state assembly.
The exit polls, which are often wrong in India, also put the
BJP ahead in three of four other states that will declare
election outcomes on Saturday.
If results do hand Modi an outright win in Uttar Pradesh
that would be an endorsement of his stewardship of Asia's
third-largest economy after his high-risk decision last November
to scrap high-value banknotes worth 86 percent of the cash in
A strong BJP showing would be welcomed by investors counting
on further economic reforms - including the launch of a national
sales tax - in the absence of any credible opponent who might
halt Modi's march to a second term in 2019.
Short of a majority, the BJP could see opponents block its
path to power in the state by forming a coalition, although
Modi's party will also look to convince its smaller rivals to
"If the BJP fails to secure a majority, then Modi's economic
decisions will be questioned and his failure to create jobs will
impact his political future," said Mohan Guruswamy, who heads
the Centre for Policy Alternatives, an independent think-tank.
The BJP's opponents include an alliance between the Congress
party and the ruling Samajwadi Party, a tie-up that caught
Modi's party off guard. A better than expected showing by a
third party could complicate the picture as results filter out.
The BJP is also eyeing victory on Saturday in the
northeastern state of Manipur, northern Uttarakhand state, and
the southern resort state of Goa, while an alliance of which it
is a member in Punjab state is predicted to lose badly.
(Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)