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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Down 16 seats in vote of caution; bags Himachal

The Narendra Modi-led BJP bucked strong anti-incumbency to retain Gujarat, while at the same time displacing the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.

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dna Correspondent

Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 01:35 AM IST

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In the end, it was left to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver, once again, Gujarat. Facing its toughest electoral contest in over 22 years, the BJP fell back on its most-trusted mascot to help it cross the finishing line in the state.

The Narendra Modi-led BJP bucked strong anti-incumbency to retain Gujarat, while at the same time displacing the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.

With Monday's results, the BJP is now in power in 19 states while the Congress remains at the helm in only four — Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

The BJP won its sixth straight Assembly election in Gujarat — but with its lowest tally ever — helped in no small measure by Modi's 34 rallies. While the Congress's vote share went up from 38 per cent in 2012 to over 41.5 per cent, BJP's vote share also increased from 47.85 per cent to 49 per cent. However, when compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the party swept all 26 seats, the BJP's vote-share fell by almost 11 per cent, from 60 per cent to 49.

In the hill-state of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won 44, up 18 seats from 2012, to dethrone the Congress, which came down to just 21 seats, down 15 from its 2012 tally, in the 68-member House.

However, in a shock for the BJP, its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to his erstwhile aide Rajinder Rana from the Sujanpur constituency. Outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh, however, won from Arki while his son Vikramaditya Singh also won.

However, while the Saffron party leaders suggested that victory and not size of the win matters, knowing Modi and his style of functioning, political observers expect some tough decisions in the offing.

For Modi understands well that the next general election is only about a year away and nothing can be left to chance.

A loss of 16 seats — the party's tally went down from 115 to 99 in a House of 182, while Congress won 77 seats — BJP leaders say will certainly lead to intense soul-searching and pointed questions from the prime minister.

"Election results show the country is ready for reforms," PM Modi said while addressing party leaders and workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Monday evening.

The Sensex couldn't agree with him more. After counting of votes began at 8 am at 37 centres, Sensex crashed by over 800 points in early trades as initial trends showed that the two parties were neck-and-neck. However, it soon recovered as it became more or less clear that the BJP would emerge as the winner. 

For the opposition Congress, which went for broke under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi (who was anointed party president after the campaigning had ended), the results point at two things: First, there are signs of revival but that revival could be a long, tough road ahead. Second, every time it can't fall back on the likes of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor to put up a decent fight against the BJP.

Counting of votes came with its own share of twists and turns. At one point, the BJP was leading in 108 seats, but the eventual tally was 99.

A quick analysis of the results shows that different regions of the state voted differently. While suffering heavy reverses in Saurashtra, the BJP managed to hold on to Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot, winning 33 out of 37 seats on offer. The Congress improved its tally in Ahmedabad city from two to four, but failed to open its account in three of Gujarat's largest cities.

The BJP improved its tally in north and central Gujarat, the two regions where Congress had won 44 out of 93 seats in 2012. This time, the BJP increased its numbers in the two regions to 53 seats, while its tally in south Gujarat dipped from 28 to 25 seats. The rallies by Patidar reservation leader Hardik Patel hurt the BJP in rural areas, but failed to deliver any gains to Congress in urban seats. In Morbi, Gir Somnath and Amreli, the party could not win a single seat.

Incidentally, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which had led to huge protests in Surat, Rajkot and other places, and was repeatedly raised by Rahul Gandhi in his campaign speeches, didn't seem to have yielded any major electoral gains for the party.

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