Prime Minister Narendra Modi flashes a victory sign to the supporters during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) victory celebrations in the Gujarat Assembly elections, at the party headquarters, in New Delhi on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

BJP creates history by winning the Gujarat state election with the record number of seats. The Congress party gets a consolation with a win in Himachal Pradesh; and AAP makes its debut as a national party

Our Bureau
Ahmedabad/Shimla/New Delhi

BJP stormed to power in Gujarat with a historic victory while Congress returned to power in Himachal Pradesh after five years in the results announced on Thursday with the two national parties giving credit to their workers and expressing gratitude to people for their victories.

The BJP has won 156 seats of 182 assembly seats in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, smashing all previous records of electoral performance. The Congress won 40 seats in the 68-member assembly riding on anti-incumbency. For Aam Aadmi Party, which won the MCD elections on Wednesday, the results in Gujarat gave some satisfaction though the party’s numbers were far less than the expectations of its leaders. AAP made its maiden entry in the Gujarat assembly winning five seats and its leaders saw a lot of hope in the party getting 12.92 per cent vote share in the state where the BJP has been in power for almost 27 years. AAP leaders also declared that the party has now gained “national party” status.

Congress recorded its worst performance in Gujarat won 17 seats, partly due to AAP splitting the opposition vote.

Independents won three seats in Gujarat and one seat went to the Samajwadi Party.

Incumbent Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel is set to take oath on December 12. The BJP won the highest number of seats in Gujarat’s history and recorded its seventh straight win.

While Congress won 40 seats in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won 25 seats. Independents won three seats and AAP failed to open its account in the state.

In terms of vote share in Himachal, Congress is only marginally ahead of the BJP having got 43.88 per cent of votes compared to 42.99 per cent of its rival. Others garnered 10.4 per cent vote share in the hill state. Himachal Pradesh has a long tradition of alternating governments and Congress was on the right side of anti-incumbency.

The BJP not only improved its own record of 127 seats in Gujarat, made in 2002 with Narendra Modi as Chief Minister but surpassed the Congress’ best tally of 149 seats in the 1985 elections.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was overcome with a lot of emotions seeing the phenomenal election results in Gujarat. He lauded the work of BJP workers in the party’s huge success.

“Thank you, Gujarat. I am overcome with a lot of emotions seeing the phenomenal election results. People blessed politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace. I bow to Gujarat’s Jan Shakti,” PM Modi said in a tweet.

“To all hardworking @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas I want to say – each of you is a champion! This historic win would never be possible without the exceptional hardwork of our Karyakartas, who are the real strength of our Party,” he added.

BJP got a massive 52.50 per cent votes in Gujarat with Congress vote share declining to 27.28 per cent.

The Prime Minister also thanked the people of Himachal Pradesh for their affection and support for BJP.

“I thank the people of Himachal Pradesh for the affection and support for the BJP. We will keep working to fulfil the aspirations of the state and raise people’s issues in the times to come,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur resigned following the party’s defeat in the polls.

The Congress, which had not projected a Chief Ministerial candidate in the hill state, is planning a meeting of its MLAs in Chandigarh with some of its leaders apprehending “poaching” attempts by BJP.

Celebrations began at the BJP office in Ahmedabad soon after it was clear that the party was on course to an overwhelming victory in the state. Congress workers also celebrated the party’s performance in Himachal Pradesh.

Home Minister Amit Shah lauded the party workers in Gujarat saying they had worked tirelessly for the party’s success.

“I salute the people of Gujarat on this historic victory. Congratulations to the Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, state party president CR Paatil and all the workers of BJP who worked tirelessly for achieving this grand victory achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chairmanship of JP Nadda,” he said in a tweet.

Amit Shah said Gujarat has always created history.

Himachal Pradesh Congress in-charge Rajeev Shukla, supervisors Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel hold a meeting with party State chief Pratibha Singh and other leaders, at Hotel Oberoi Cecil, in Shimla on Friday (ANI)

“In the last two decades, under the leadership of Modi ji, the BJP broke all the records of development in Gujarat and today the people of Gujarat have blessed the BJP and broken all the records of victory. This is a victory of the unwavering faith of the public in the development model of PM Modi,” he said.

Shah also took a veiled dig at the Opposition and said that the people have rejected those who resorted to appeasement politics and offered ‘revdis’ to people. “Gujarat has rejected those who make empty promises, distribute revdies and do appeasement politics, and has given a mandate to PM Modi’s BJP which has ensured the development and public welfare.

This massive victory has shown that every section, be it women, youth or farmers, all are wholeheartedly with BJP,” he said. Referring to Himachal Pradesh, Shah said that BJP served the people of the state for five years with all sincerity.

He expressed gratitude for the affections and support of the people of the state. “BJP will keep working continuously with dedication for the welfare of people of Devbhumi,” he said.

BJP president JP Nadda congratulated Bhupendra Patel, party’s Gujarat chief CR Paatil and all the workers of state BJP for the party’s landslide victory in the state. Bhupendra Patel said the people of Gujarat have made up their minds to further continue with the journey of development in Gujarat. “We humbly accept the mandate of the people. Every worker of BJP is committed to public service,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who resigned on Thursday following the results, said he respected the people’s mandate of Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Pratibha Singh said the people of Himachal Pradesh have given the party the mandate and “there is no need to fear (of poaching)”. “We can meet (our MLAs) anywhere including Chandigarh or in the state. Those who have won will be with us and we will form the government,” she said.

“It is a very emotional moment for me as I can see the same kind of support from people as it was for late Virbhadra Singh. Chandigarh is easily accessible meeting point for MLAs & we are not worried about poaching,” she added.

The next big task for the Congress is to choose its chief ministerial candidate among various aspirants including Pratibha Singh. Former state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri are seen as the other contenders for the post.

Hailing the party’s victory, Sukhu also expressed gratitude to the people of the state. “We express our gratitude to the people of Himachal Pradesh. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra conducted rallies in state and mobilized cadre. BJP politics of breaking away people won’t work; Congress has got a majority. BJP will split in state,” he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that AAP has become a national party in 10 years. “Today, the AAP has become a national party. Results of the Gujarat elections have come and the party has become a national party. Ten years ago, AAP was a small party, now after 10 years it has governments in two states and has become a national party,” he said.

After the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday registered a comfortable win in Gujarat assembly elections and Rampur assembly bypolls, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath said that the victory represents public admiration towards good governance, security and the development taking place under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He termed BJP’s victory as the victory of Prime Minister Modi’s policies.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also congratulated the winners in the bypolls to Khatauli and Rampur Assembly segments and the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat.

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Pratibha Singh informed that they will be holding a meeting to decide upon the name of the Chief Minister of the hill state in the evening. “We will be holding a meeting in the evening and then deciding the name of the CM. There is no groupism and everybody is with us,” Pratibha Singh said hours after her statement sparked a row of controversy. State President Pratibha Virbhadra Singh, in a conversation with ANI, was seen hinting at her desire to be chosen as the CM of the state as she said that the party cannot ignore the person (her husband- Virbhadra Singh) in whose name it contested the polls and won.

“They can’t neglect his (Virbhadra Singh) family. We won on his name, face and work. It can’t be the case that you use his name, face and family and then give all the credit to someone else. Even High Command won’t do this,” she had said.

Finalizing its chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh appears to be a big task for Congress with various aspirants in the fray including Pratibha Singh. Former state Congress chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and CLP leader Mukesh Agnihotri are also seen as the other contenders for the post.

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