New Delhi: The BJP scored its sixth straight victory in Gujarat thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intensive and hard-fought campaign but the gritty fight put up by Congress president Rahul Gandhi showed the Opposition party in a new light, an important development with just about 18 months left for the general elections.
In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP swept to victory with 44 seats and the Congress bagged 21 in the 68-seat Assembly. The BJP and its allies now have governments in 19 states and the Congress, four.
Mr Modi, draped in a garland of flowers, told cheering supporters at the BJP headquarters here, “The Gujarat election results are historic. In this day and age, for a party to keep winning for so long is unprecedented.”
The BJP failed to crack the 100-mark in the 182-seat Assembly but its vote percentage has grown to 49.1 per cent from 47.85 in 2012. It won fewer seats, 99 against 115 in the previous election. The Congress too benefited from a vote surge, its share going up from 38.93 per cent to 41.4 per cent and saw its seats rise from 61 to 77. Mr Modi’s campaign almost single-handedly overcame everything that was said to work against the ruling party: the impact of demonetisation and GST on the trading community; the rainbow coalition stitched up by the Congress with the caste groups — Mr Hardik Patel of the Patidars, Mr Alpesh Thakor of the OBCs and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani.
There were many positives for the Congress: The new party president, for long the butt of jokes, showed that he could put up a fight against the seemingly invincible Mr Modi.
BJP wins big in urban areas
The party did exceedingly well in the rural areas, while the BJP won the urban areas. “I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” Mr Gandhi said in a tweet later.
The defeats of key leaders took some of the sheen off the good show put up by both parties. BJP chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal lost in Himachal Pradesh, while Congress Gujarat chief Arjun Modhwadia lost in Porbandar.
In effect, there was no real loser on Monday. Both parties had their moments, Mr Modi and BJP president Amit Shah's tight strategy saw the party past the post....