BJPs chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal, a professor of English literature, led the saffron surge by winning from Bamsan in Hamirpur district.
The Himachal win, immediately after the Gujarat victory, sent a wave of enthusiasm within the BJP with party leaders contending that the development was proof of a national resurgence for the party.
After the election victories in Himachal and Gujarat, I feel the people of the country have come to a conclusion that only BJP can give good governance, BJP chief
Rajnath Singh told reporters here on Friday. Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said party MLAs will meet on Saturday to elect their leader.
Up against a strong anti-incumbency wave, the Congress secured only 23 seats, losing almost half of the 43 seats it had the last time. The party, for which the bad tidings came on its 123rd foundation day, failed to come up with effective counters to the BJP campaign plank of corruption, price rise and unemployment.
Further playing a spoiler for the Congress was the BSP, which won only one seat but damaged Congress prospects in as many as ten seats.
Three seats were won by independents.
Dhumal, who also represents Hamirpur in Lok Sabha, is likely to be chosen as the leader of the BJPs Legislature Party on Saturday and may be sworn in for a second term as chief minister on Sunday.
Though Congress leader Virbhadra Singh retained his Rohru seat in Shimla district, a number of ministers in his Cabinet failed to survive the saffron sweep. The defeated ministers included Raj Kishan Gaur (agriculture), Ramlal Thakur (forest) and Kuldeep Kumar (industries).