Ahmedabad/Shimla: The BJP today headed for a victory in Gujarat to retain its nearly two-decade stranglehold over power, and also stayed on course to oust the Congress in Himachal Pradesh, according to most counting trends.
“Development is the mantra of today’s polity. And therefore people are with Modiji,” Human Resources Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
“We will get majority in both states and form governments,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, as the counting trends from most seats in the two assemblies were being updated by the Election Commission.
At the same time Congress is doing better than expected in Gujarat, given that it had won 61 seats in the 2012 elections while the BJP had got 115.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was earlier trailing after the count of postal ballots, is now leading over Congress’ Indranil Rajyaguru in Rajkot West seat.
Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Himachal Pradesh, was trailing behind Congress’s Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur, according to early trends.
Seeking a sixth straight term in Gujarat, the BJP was ahead in 101 seats while the opposition Congress is leading in 74 seats, the Election Commission(EC) trends available for 181 of the 182 seats at stake showed.
At this stage, the BJP had a vote share of 49.2 per cent while it was 41.7 per cent for the Congress. Its vote share in 2012 was 38.93 percent.
Early trends had indicated a neck and neck race in Gujarat, which gave slight jitters to BJP workers. But soon the BJP pulled ahead and the numbers began to conform with exit poll results.
The EC figures showed the NCP, Bhartiya Tribal Party and an independent candidate leading in five seats together.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel is trailing from Mehsana against Congress candidate Jivabhai Patel by 3,000 votes. Mehsana was the epicentre of the Patidar reservation agitation.
Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia is trailing in Porbandar by just 50 votes after counting of three rounds, against BJP leader and fisheries minister Babubhai Bokhiriya.
Congress’ Alpesh Thakor is leading in Radhanpur seat against Lavingji Thakor of BJP.
Senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil is trailing against BJP’s Virendrasinh Jadeja from Mandvi seat.
State BJP chief Jitu Vaghani is leading over Dilipsinh Gohil of Congress in Bhavnagar West.
The elections were held on December 9 and 14, after a deeply acrimonious campaign, which was dominated by a face-off between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP has won every election since 1995 in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. However, it was out of power for a couple of years due to party infighting and rebellion by Shankersinh Vaghela. BJP came back to power in 1998, and has ruled uninterrupted since then.
In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was ahead in 40 seats while the ruling Congress is leading in 21, according to early Election Commission trends for 65 of the 68 seats.
Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla(Rural) respectively, according to early trends.
Main rivals BJP and Congress contested all the 68 seats at stake.
The hill state witnessed a record 75.28 per cent turnout.
The Congress and the BJP had 36 and 26 seats respectively in the outgoing House.
Himachal Pradesh has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it appears to be the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after the exit polls predicted a victory for the saffron party.
The BJP ousted the Congress in 1990 and the Congress avenged the defeat in 1993. The BJP formed the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress in 1998 and the Congress was back in power in 2003. The BJP made a comeback in 2007.