- BJP rides on Modi wave to a massive victory in UP
- Congress gets another chance to rule Punjab
- BJP achieves unassailable lead in Uttarakhand
- Hung Assembly likely in Goa and Manipur
Holi arrived two days early for Bharatiya Janata Party as it was set to sweep back to power in Uttar Pradesh this morning after 15 long years, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest victory after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The results proved wrong the fears of a hung Assembly. A majority of exit polls had predicted a hung House, with the BJP ahead of the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, which was way behind the saffron party.
The BJP was also set to sweep neighbouring Uttarakhand. Punjab has given the Congress another chance after 10 years and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is likely to be the day’s biggest loser. Goa and Manipur are likely to get a hung Assembly. Votes are being counted for Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa today.
Powered by an aggressive campaign spearheaded by Modi, BJP candidates in UP were on the road to victory in a whopping 306 of the 403 constituencies as officials counted millions of votes polled in the staggered 7-phase election.
The imminent victory triggered widespread celebrations all across the country’s most populous state as well as at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.
BJP top leaders said that they had expected and prepared for 195-210 seats in UP. The rest is all bonus, so to say. Caste politics or caste calculations haven’t worked like 2014. The BJP sweep in Uttar Pradesh is greater than what the BJP leaders expected. They had expected just above a clear majority. Trends said demonetisation has not affected the BJP in UP at all. On the contrary, it seems to have favoured the party.
Trends suggested the Samajwadi Party has had no benefit from the Congress alliance in UP. Congress appears to have performed well than SP, suggesting SP votes transferred to Congress but not vice-versa.
‘Modi wave’ ensured victory: As the Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party licked their wounds, BJP leaders credited ‘Modi wave’ for the party’s strong showing in the high stakes Uttar Pradesh elections. On the next Chief Minister in the State, they said that the decision will be taken by the BJP Parliamentary Board and the Legislature party.
BJP general secretary O.P. Mathur said the state has become “Modi-fied” and so has the country. “It is a tectonic shift in Indian politics. UP is a laboratory of India. Demonetisation has worked and we are proud of Modi’s leadership. It is a bigger victory than the 2014 win in the Lok Sabha election,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
BJP heading for Uttarakhand win
Early trends from Uttarakhand show the BJP is heading for a clean sweep as the party is leading in 52 seats while the Congress is ahead in 11 seats. Independent candidates are leading four seats. Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost from both his seats – Haridwar Rural and Kichha. He lost for BJP candidate Yatishwaranand in Haridwar Rural by 12,400 votes.
Hung assembly in Goa
Goa appeared headed for a hung assembly with the Congress winning two and the BJP three seats and leading in six and three other seats respectively. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party suffered a major blow when Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar was defeated by Dayanand Sopte of the Congress at Mandrem by nearly 5,000 votes.
And at Poriem, former Chief Minister and Congress candidate Pratapsingh Rane defeated his BJP rival Vishwajit K. Rane. The Congress, which was determined to oust the BJP after losing narrowly to it in the 2012 election, also led in six other constituencies.
Congress leads in Punjab
The Congress won its first two seats in Punjab and led on 73 others, making a strong revival in the border State after being out of power for a decade. The AAP, set to be the main opposition, won one seat.
The Congress surged towards a clear majority as its candidates led in 73 other seats in the 117-member assembly. Proving wrong exit polls which projected a close outcome, the Congress remained way ahead of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) right from the time vote count began.
Irom Sharmila defeated
Okram Ibobi Singh has swept Thoubal in Manipur, showing that irrespective of his Congress’ performance in the State, he has retained loyalty in a constituency that has consistently voted for him. Meanwhile, Irom Sharmila’s dismal performance in the constituency indicates that the internationally-renowned human rights activist does not, yet, have the makings of a political leader.
No question of Rahul stepping down, says Digvijay Singh
Congress veteran Digvijay Singh said there was no question of party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi stepping down, in the wake of the poor showing in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. “There is no question of Rahul Gandhi stepping down,” said Singh in reply to media queries about change in the Congress top leadership.
“The Nehru-Gandhi family is the greatest binding factor for the Congress and the leadership has to come to Rahul,” he said. With the BJP surging towards a decisive victory both in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Singh admitted that the Congress party needed to build regional leaders.