Indian stocks fell as investors weighed their bets on the first day of the year that will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi seek re-election.

The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.2 per cent to 35,982.57 at 10.32am in Mumbai after ending 2018 as Asia’s best performing major market in local currency terms. The broader NSE Nifty 50 Index declined 0.3 per cent.

Modi needs to shore up popular support by addressing agrarian distress, infusing capital in banks riddled with bad loans and accelerating spending on infrastructure projects. However, as the government has exceeded its budgeted annual deficit, any sops will need to be balanced with possible reductions in spending to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 percent of gross domestic product.

The general elections are likely to be held in April-May this year. India is the only major market open in the world.