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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024
AAP ahead in a handful of seats

BJP heads for a clean sweep in Gujarat, but locked in close contest in Himachal

The BJP retaining power in Gujarat won’t be shocking. But what will leave us shattered and completely demoralised is a defeat in Himachal, admits a Congress leader

Our Web Desk Published 08.12.22, 11:39 AM
A security personnel makes a video of a counting centre for Gujarat Assembly elections in Ahmedabad

A security personnel makes a video of a counting centre for Gujarat Assembly elections in Ahmedabad PTI Photo

BJP was poised to conquer Gujarat with a best-ever election result with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) cutting into Congress votes, while it was locked in a neck-and-neck race with the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as votes were being counted in the two states on Thursday.

In the Prime Minister's home state of Gujarat, the BJP was ahead in around 150 seats. The Congress, which delivered a strong result in the last election, was leading in about 20-odd seats, according to latest reports sourced from news television and agencies.

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Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, which is aiming to pull off a grand entry into the Gujarat political landscape with this election, was ahead in seven seats. The BJP has so far received 53.62 per cent vote share, Congress 26.57 per cent and AAP 12.80 per cent.

Gujarat has 182 seats and the majority mark stands at 92.

In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress was leading in 39 seats, while the BJP was leading in 26 seats around 1 pm. Himachal has 68 seats in the Assembly with a majority mark of 35.

The BJP, which launched its campaign in Gujarat months ago, went all out from the start, leaving nothing to chance. Led by Prime Minister Modi, the BJP campaigned with all its might and star power. Modi held over 30 rallies after the elections were announced.

Himachal Pradesh, which has 68 seats, is close to the Congress's collective national ambitions. The BJP took an early lead as counting began, but the Congress surged after an hour or so, narrowing the gap.

In Himachal, the BJP is banking on the achievements of PM Modi for a smooth transition to a second term, even though the state is known to swing between the BJP and the Congress every five years.

The BJP's message to Himachal was of central development, with PM Modi flagging off a Vande Bharat Express ahead of elections and opening a new AIIMS at Bilaspur. In many areas of the state party hoardings did not have the face of chief minister Jairam Thakur.

AAP practically dropped out of the race in Himachal to focus its energies in Gujarat and Delhi.

The Congress leadership is finding it hard to digest the exit poll predictions about the BJP’s seats and vote share rising significantly in Gujarat. But its main concern is the smaller hill state of Himachal Pradesh where a defeat will certify the party’s inability to turn the tide.

While the party's internal feedback from Himachal Pradesh suggested a thumping majority, the ground reality mirrored the exit poll predictions of a cut-throat competition.

Congress leaders are prepared for a repeat of a BJP government in Gujarat after Modi’s intense campaign but still nurture the hope of a major surprise from tribal areas, which appeared inclined towards the Congress.

“The BJP retaining power in Gujarat won’t be shocking. What will trigger a political earthquake is the BJP falling short of the majority mark, which we expected initially. We still can’t believe the BJP will cross 100. But what will leave us shattered and completely demoralised is a defeat in Himachal. The ground reality favoured us in both states but the BJP has strong roots in Gujarat. Himachal was itching to ditch the BJP,” a senior Congress leader told The Telegraph the day before counting.

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