BJP retains Gujarat for 7th straight term, loses Himachal

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president J P Nadda flash victory sign at BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday. (UNI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president J P Nadda flash victory sign at BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday. (UNI)

AAP wins 5 seats in Gujarat, fails to open account in HP

AHMEDABAD/SHIMLA, Dec 8: Riding high on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP today retained power in Gujarat for a record seventh straight term pulverising the opposition to secure the biggest majority ever in the state.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) set new records in the home State of Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah with its “historic” and “phenomenal” victory for a three-fourths majority, it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress after a close fight, as the hill state continued with its tradition of nearly four decades in voting out the incumbent party.
The vote share difference for the winning Congress and the BJP in Himachal Pradesh was less than one per cent, a point also noted by Modi and BJP President J P Nadda in their address to party workers at the BJP headquarters in Delhi in the evening. While the Congress, which got a simple majority, polled 43.9 per cent votes, the vote share for the BJP in the home state of Nadda was 43 per cent.
As Modi continued to hold sway over voters and addressed 31 election rallies in Gujarat, the BJP also checkmated the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in the first ever triangular contests in the state and pushed the Congress down to its all time low.
Gujarat State BJP president C R Paatil said Bhupendra Patel, the party’s 60-year-old soft-spoken face in the State, would remain as the Chief Minister and his swearing-in ceremony would be held on December 12. Patel won the Ghatlodia seat in Ahmedabad by a huge margin of 1.92 lakh votes.
The BJP, which focused on a development agenda and overcame anti-incumbency yet again without losing an election since 1995, also equalled the Left Front’s feat of seven consecutive terms in West Bengal. The CPI(M)-led Front ruled the eastern state for 34 years from 1977 to 2011.
The BJP, for whom Hindutva remained a political strategy, got support from all sections bagging 155 seats and was leading in 1 in a House of 182. It garnered a vote share of nearly 53 per cent which was the highest for the party in the western state.
The BJP, which bagged 99 seats in 2017 Assembly polls with a 49.1 per cent vote share, surpassed its previous best showing of 127 seats in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister. Congress holds the all-time record of 149 seats that it had won in 1985 under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki.
With a nearly 13 per cent vote share, the Arvind Kejriwal-headed AAP won only five of the 181 seats it contested. In a video message, the Delhi Chief Minister said though the AAP has not won many seats the votes the party got helped it attain the national party status. The AAP also called its showing impressive.
After giving a tough fight to the BJP in 2017 Assembly polls in Gujarat by winning 77 seats, the Congress has hit a nadir in the western state where the party’s campaign, mostly shouldered by local leaders, has leaned on door-to-door canvassing for votes as its leader Rahul Gandhi chose to stay away to focus on the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Rahul had aggressively campaigned in 2017.
The AAP also appeared to have played spoilsport for the Congress. With a vote share of nearly 28 per cent, the Congress won 17 seats.
The BJP managed to improve its 2017 tally as the issues it faced in the 2017 state polls like the state-wide outburst of anger among the Patidar community and restlessness among the traders over the GST regime appear to have faded.
Hundreds of BJP workers thronged the party office in Gandhinagar as they danced and distributed sweets outside the Gujarat state party headquarters.
Though the opposition in Gujarat took on the Modi government over rising inflation, slowing growth and joblessness, the economic troubles apparently did not dent BJP’s popularity in the state that has been a bastion of the party for decades and where Modi was chief minister from 2001 to 2014.
While the Congress was not expected to replicate its creditable performance of the last Assembly elections, a good showing by the AAP could have helped Kejriwal cement his place as a key challenger to Prime Minister Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The AAP is also in power in Punjab.
The AAP had carried out a high-decibel campaign and emboldened by the victory in the Delhi municipal elections it had hoped its politics of welfarism will be accepted by the people in Gujarat.
Journalist-turned-politician Isudan Gadhvi, who was AAP’s Chief Ministerial face, and Gopal Italia, the party’s State president, were among the prominent losers from the party camp.
Several State leaders of the Congress party including its former leader of opposition Paresh Dhanani lost. However, its senior-most leader in the state, Arjun Modhwadia won while firebrand Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani reversed early losses to post a victory.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba Jadeja were among the prominent winners for the BJP.
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress won 40 of the 68 seats at stake followed by the BJP, which bagged 25. Independents won three seats.
The AAP, which had fielded candidates in 67 seats, failed to make a debut and had a meagre vote share of 1.1 per cent.
Congress leaders in Himachal Pradesh credited its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi for its win which came as a boost for the grand old party.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who won for the sixth time from Seraj assembly seat in Mandi district, said he respects the mandate of the people and submitted his resignation to Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar.
Anti-incumbency against the BJP government and the issue of price rise coupled with the Congress promising restoration of the old pension scheme and providing Rs 1,500 to every adult woman in the state seemed to be the main factors that worked in favour of the Congress.
With the BJP slogan of ‘Raj nahin, riwaaj badlenge’ (changing tradition and not the government) being rejected by voters, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi thanked the people for the “decisive win” and assured them that every promise made by the party will be fulfilled.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla hailed Priyanka Gandhi’s campaign and leadership, lauding the “hard work” put in by her.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Congress victory will have resonance and ripple effect in the poll-bound states next year.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party retained the high-profile Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, while the BJP wrested Rampur Sadar Assembly seat in UP from it and Kurhani constituency in Bihar from the ruling Nitish Kumar-led alliance in results of the December 5 by-elections announced on Thursday.
The ruling BJP in UP, however, lost Khatauli to Samajwadi Party ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The Congress retained its two assembly seats – Bhanupratappur in Chhattisgarh and Sardarshahar Assembly seat in Rajasthan’s Churu district. The party is in power in the two states.
The BJD continued its dominance in Odisha, winning Padampur assembly seat in Bargarh district.
Out of the six assembly seats in five states where bypolls were held on Monday, the Congress and the BJP won two each while one each went to the BJD and RLD after counting of votes on Thursday.
Dimple Yadav, the wife of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, defeated her nearest rival and BJP candidate Raghuraj Singh Shakya by 2,88,461 votes in Mainpuri, a pocket borough of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family.
The win would provide some solace to Akhilesh Yadav after the defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections early this year and the loss of Azamgarh and Rampur Lok Sabha seats to the BJP in June bypolls.
Samajwadi Party ally Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Madan Bhaiya defeated his BJP rival Rajkumari Saini by a margin of over 22,000 votes in Khatauli. Saini is the wife of former BJP MLA Vikram Singh whose disqualification from the state assembly following his conviction in a 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots case necessitated the by-election.
Madan Bhaiya polled 97,071 votes, while Saini received 74,996, according to the Election Commission.
The BJP, however, for the first time won from SP leader Azam Khan’s bastion Rampur Sadar which he represented before he was disqualified for his conviction in a hate speech case.
In Bihar, BJP candidate Kedar Prasad Gupta defeated Manoj Singh Kushwaha of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) by 3,645 votes in Kurhani seat.
The JD(U) had snapped ties with the BJP four months ago.
In the cliffhanger of a contest, Gupta polled 76,653 votes while Kushwaha finished with 73,008 votes.
The by-election was necessitated by the disqualification of RJD MLA Anil Kumar Sahani. The RJD is a constituent of the ruling Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance).
“The victory is an affirmation of the people’s faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a resounding slap in the face of Mahagathbandhan which came to power by fraud and continues to cheat the masses”, said Samrat Chaudhary, senior BJP leader and former minister, as he joined the jubilations outside the counting centre in Muzaffarpur.
Congress’ Anil Sharma defeated Ashok Kumar Pincha of the BJP by a margin of 26,850 votes in Rajasthan’s Sardarshahar assembly, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot describing it as “people’s seal of approval” on his government’s “good governance and public welfare schemes”.
This is the 10th time the Congress won the seat since Independence. The bypoll was necessitated following the demise of senior Congress leader and MLA Bhanwarlal Sharma, who is Anil Sharma’s father.
Congress candidate Savitri Mandavi won from Bhanupratappur Assembly a margin of 21,171 votes against her nearest rival Brahmanand Netam of the BJP, a poll official here said.
Mandavi, the wife of Congress MLA Manoj Singh Mandavi whose death necessitated the by-election, polled 65,479 votes, while the BJP’s Netam secured 44,308 votes, he said.
Former IPS officer Akbar Ram Korram, who contested as an independent, gave a spirited fight and polled 23,417 votes.
In Odisha’s Padampur, ruling BJD’s Barsha Singh Bariha won by a margin of 42,679 votes, defeating the BJP’s Pradip Purohit.
Barsha is the daughter of late MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death in October necessitated the by-poll. (PTI)

All sections supporting BJP: PM
NEW DELHI, Dec 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted today the results of two State Assembly elections and several bypolls highlight people’s support to the BJP’s vision and commitment to development rising above social “faultlines”, which he said were “being exploited” by rival parties for political gains.
India’s future can be made bright not by raising faultlines but by erasing them, he said in his address to BJP workers at the party’s headquarters after the BJP wrote new records in his home State by winning over 155 seats and fetching over 52 per cent of votes.
In an apparent attack on the Aam Aadmi Party, Modi invoked the Hindi idiom “Aamdani athanni kharcha rupaiya” and said people have realised that short-term politics will inflict a big harm on the country. What will be the situation if such a policy is followed can be seen in our neighbourhood, he said in reference to financial hardships in countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The support to the BJP shows people’s rising anger against dynasty rule and corruption, he said, noting that the party also won the prestigious Rampur bypoll in Uttar Pradesh.
He said attempts were made to fail the BJP-run Municipal Corporation in the national capital and people were cheated in the process, a reference to his party’s charge that the AAP Government in Delhi denied funds worth hundreds of crores owed to it. The AAP has ended the BJP’s 15-year-reign in the local body and has also got nearly 13 per cent votes in Gujarat.
“There is no doubt in people’s mind that if the country is prosperous, everyone’s prosperity is guaranteed,” he said, asserting that voters have supported the BJP in the times of crisis as seen in the party’s win in polls held during the Covid pandemic and also when it is working to fulfil their aspirations with a vision of developed India.
The ruling party is working to empower the poor, taking all basic facilities to people and, at the some time, building modern infrastructure in sectors like roads, rail, airports and optical fibre, he said.
“I bow to people, their blessing is overwhelming,” he said.
“Be it villages or cities, the poor of middle class, youth or women, every section of society has supported the BJP,” he said.
The BJP has won 34 of 40 seats reserved for the SCs and STs in Gujarat in a thumping majority, he added.
The Prime Minister also accused the BJP’s rivals of exploiting social faultlines and divisions for political gains in the name of language, region, lifestyle, eating habits or communities.
People, especially the youth, can see through it, he said, adding that his party got support among over one crore young voters in Gujarat who have seen only its rule because they can see its work.
“India’s future can be bright not by raising fault lines but by erasing them. Hundreds of reasons exist for fighting but one reason is enough for us to unite, which is our motherland India. We have to move ahead with the goal of ‘India First’,” he said.
Hailing the verdict in Gujarat, he said the State’s affection for the BJP despite it being in power for nearly 25 years is unprecedented.
He noted that he had urged people to make “Bhupendra (Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel) break all records of Narendra” and they have done it.
In a swipe at the BJP’s critics, he said the country needs to know the “games” of people who call themselves neutral.
There is no discussion on those who lost their deposits in Himachal and Uttarakhand, Modi said, a likely reference to the AAP’s rout in these states after it made tall claims on its prospects there.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has won his seat by almost two lakh votes which is an impressive margin even in a Lok Sabha election, he said, adding critically that “thekedars” (contractors) have different metrics of evaluating others and the BJP has to advance in the face of these “zulms” (atrocities).
The Prime Minister said he had seen it all as his every move was savaged after 2002, an apparent reference to the communal violence in the state when he was Chief Minister, but he benefitted from it by being alert all the time and making positive changes in himself.
Those who are lauded all the time have little chance to correct themselves, he added.
These “zulms” will now rise against him as well as the BJP, he claimed, telling party workers to increase their restraint and spirit of service while continuing to work. (PTI)