The Congress flipped Himachal Pradesh and the Bharatiya Janata Party retained Gujarat (and the Aam Aadmi Party declared itself a ‘national’ outfit) on a frantic Thursday in which votes for two Assembly elections and seven bypolls – one Lok Sabha and six state – were counted.
1. Speaking as the day wound down, prime minister Narendra Modi said he was ‘overcome with a lot of emotions‘ after the BJP claimed a landslide win in his home state. “Thank you… am overcome with a lot of emotions (on) seeing the phenomenal election results. People blessed politics of development… they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace…” he tweeted.
2. The BJP has claimed a seventh consecutive term in Gujarat – an eventuality predicted by exit polls. At 5.30 pm the party had won 131 of the state’s 182 seats and was ahead in 25 others. The margin of victory is emphatic enough to put its own record – of 149 seats in 1985 – under threat. The Congress – never seriously seen as a challenger – had just 12 wins and five leads at the same time.
3. As the trend became clear and there was no way back for the Congress, the BJP’s Gujarat unit boss, CR Patil, claimed victory for his side and said Bhupendra Patel would return as chief minister for a second term. Patel will be sworn in at 2 pm on Monday he said. The Congress, meanwhile, claimed they were affected by the presence of the AAP and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM; state boss Jagdish Thakor said these two had cut into the Congress’ vote share.
4. The Congress, routed in Gujarat, fought back to oust the BJP from Himachal Pradesh – a state that traditionally votes out incumbent governments. Rahul Gandhi thanked the people for their mandate and promised them that pre-poll promises would be met. He also thanked the state’s party leaders and workers.
5. At 5.30 pm the Congress had won 39 of the seat’s 68 seats and was leading in one more. The BJP had 18 wins and seven leads to its name, while the three remaining seats were won by independents. The halfway mark here is 35, meaning the Congress cannot be beaten.
6. Outgoing chief minister Jai Ram Thakur then addressed a press conference in which he conceded defeat but also seemed to fire a warning shot at the Congress. “Their MLAs have been elected. Now it is their job to protect them… to protect the majority…” – ominous words given opposition parties’ allegations that the BJP bribes MPs and MLAs.
7. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP – which on Wednesday scored a big win in the Delhi civic polls, bringing the BJP’s 15-year reign to a halt – failed to open its account in Himachal Pradesh but produced an impressive show in Gujarat, where it claimed four seats on its Assembly election debut. A jubilant Kejriwal later tweeted to claim the AAP’s status as a ‘national’ party.