The official results of the closely-watched elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are out and sparking national headlines and debates. The voters' verdict had presented shocking and surprising turns with new beginnings and takeaways for the parties. As the hard-fought battle has come to an end, the parties are setting the stage to commence their reigns.
Gujarat's 182 seats went to the polls in two phases on December 1 and December 5 while Himachal Pradesh hosted the single phase poll for its 68 seats on November 12. Both the states were ruled by the BJP and while BJP had a bright prospect of victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh gave it a different story. Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh recorded voter turnouts of around 64% and 75% respectively.
The votes were counted on Thursday - December 8 and since the early counting, BJP had a humongous lead in Gujarat in hitting the majority mark of 92 while Congress was plummeting sharply. In Himachal Pradesh, both parties had a neck-and-neck race to reach the majority mark of 35. The trends in the both the states remained intact as the count advanced further.
The nation was closely watching the races and the official results were published during the evening hours of Thursday. According to the data from Election Commission, BJP has recorded a historical triumph in Gujarat as it is all set to rule the state for the sixth consecutive time. The party has displayed that it is still invincible in the state even after reigning for decades.
As per the data, BJP has officially won 147 seats and it has neared to accomplish its aim of crossing the 150-mark. The party has secured 50 seats more than the majority scale while Congress has plummeted to a new low as it has bagged only 16 seats, about sixty seats less than what it got in the 2017 polls. Gujarat voters hadn't disappointed the new entrant, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as it has won five seats and played a vital role in dividing the voter share of the Congress party.
As BJP has savored a record-breaking victory in Gujarat, the party has rolled out celebrations at the BJP headquarters in Delhi and the event was attended by the party's paramount leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, who are the sons of Gujarat. The victory has given a significant weight to their leadership and to the party's hope of triumphing the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
On the other hand, BJP has lost its reign in Himachal Pradesh in a race that was down to the wire. The BJP's rule was ousted by the Congress through which the latter had a big breather and boost after enduring back-to-back electoral debacles. After a bleak out from Gujarat, Congress is shining through its thumping victory in the hilly state and though the change of rule once in five years became the political culture in Himachal Pradesh, it is certainly a much needed victory for the party when its significance is being revived through Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Though the Congress faced a blow in the BJP's pro-incumbency wave in Gujarat, the party has added a new state to its national list. In Himachal Pradesh, Congress has become the single largest party and it has become the third state to be ruled by Congress after Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Particularly, when Congress was losing its stronghold in the northern belt after getting defeated in Punjab earlier this year, the victory from Himachal Pradesh had given a plethora of hope for the party and its new leadership to face the upcoming polls.
According to Election Commission, Congress has won 40 seats out of 68 in Himachal Pradesh, five seats more than the majority mark, BJP ended its race by bagging 24 seats while AAP got washed out of the race. However, though the Congress is into the new leadership, it's old culture seemed to be strong in the party. According to reports, after having a clear victory, the Himachal Pradesh Congress unit has decided to take the elected MLAs to Chandigarh in the midst of a poaching buzz that the MLAs would be covered by the BJP to form the government.
The Congress party has decided to hold the meeting with the MLAs in Chandigarh to choose the Legislative Party leader (Chief Minister) to lead the party's rule in the state. According to PTI, Congress has suffered its worst-ever defeat in Gujarat. Asked about the results, former Congress leader Sanjay Jha said the Congress is paying a spectacular price for its self-inflicted mammoth Punjab disaster where it gave away the state on a silver platter with golden ribbons to its nemesis, the AAP.
Jha told PTI, "Naturally, an emboldened AAP sees Congress as a low-hanging fruit. That explains the dismal withering away in Gujarat and Delhi." Several political observers say that the defeat in Gujarat is yet another signal and prospect for Congress to fix its beleaguered politics and it's internal political crisis. Manindra Nath Thakur of Jawaharlal Nehru University told PTI that the loss in Gujarat is a disaster for the Congress party, which could lend credence to the argument that the AAP could replace or challenge Congress.
"The Congress faces more danger from the AAP going towards 2024. The BJP is in a comfortable position and the AAP could swing the anti-BJP vote towards it if Congress does not rework its strategy. The AAP can put up a challenge for the Congress next in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh", he told PTI. At the end of the day and of course, at the end of the year, both the BJP and Congress equally had a boost and blow politically as they are getting ready for the next level of ballot battle with new beginning and new challenges.