Results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections will have a huge impact on the run-up to the 2019 national polls for both the BJP and the Congress.
AHMEDABAD/SHIMLA: An hour into counting of votes, it’s a tough fight in Gujarat. The BJP is leading in 106 of the key state’s 182 seats, the Congress in 75, with the latter gaining in 14 seats that it had lost last time. The BJP is trailing in nine seats it had won in 2012. Votes are also being counted in Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP has pulled ahead in 39, gaining in 13. The Congress is ahead in 25, but is trailing in 11 seats it had won last time. The Sensex tanked over 800 points as it opened on Monday morning, but recovered later and is trading flat now.
Here is your cheatsheet to the results of 2017 Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections:
- Gujarat has 182 assembly seats and a party needs 92 or more to form government. The BJP is seeking its fifth consecutive term in the state, having been in power for the last two decades. In 2012, the BJP had won 115 seats and the Congress 61.
- Himachal Pradesh has 68 assembly seats and a party needs 35 or more to cross halfway and form government. If the BJP wins today, it will take away another state from the Congress. The Congress had won Himachal by the slimmest of margins five years ago.
- Analysts have called the Gujarat election a pivotal moment, a contest important not only for the state but also national politics. A win today will give the BJP added momentum in the run-up to the 2019 national election after its sweep of Uttar Pradesh earlier this year.
- Winning Gujarat, his home state, is also a matter of prestige for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a bitterly fought battle versus Rahul Gandhi, the Prime Minister made the election more about Gujarati pride and less about issues like development and economic policies raised by the new Congress president.
- Rahul Gandhi also tried to tap into any anti-incumbency sentiment against the BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for two decades. He forged partnerships with young caste leaders to cash in on the anger of their groups against the ruling party.
- Today’s results will reveal whether the Congress could make any dent in the BJP’s traditional vote base of the influential Patel community with its tie-up with 24-year-old Hardik Patel, the face of the Patel or Patidar agitation for reservation in government jobs and colleges.
- Rahul Gandhi’s strategy of inducting backward caste leader Alpesh Thakor into the Congress to woo the state’s 30 per cent OBCs will also be tested. His party has also supported Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, not fielding a candidate against him.
- Late on Sunday evening, the Election Commission withdrew its notice to Rahul Gandhi over a television interview aired after campaigning had ended in Gujarat last week. The BJP had alleged that Mr Gandhi’s interview violated election rules.
- The Congress had countered that with several complaints of its own, including over PM Modi walking on the road with his inked finger held up after voting in Ahmedabad during the second and last phase of voting in Gujarat on Thursday last. The Congress alleged that PM Modi had conducted a “road show”, violating rules.
- The allegations capped an acrimonious campaign that saw the two sides trade angry words, with both PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi accusing the other of abuses. PM Modi’s allegation that Congress leaders including his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh colluded with Pakistan in an attempt to influence the Gujarat polls has provoked a demand by the opposition party for an apology in parliament.