The BJP is headed for a landslide win in Himachal Pradesh trouncing the incumbent Congress there and is set to begin a record sixth consecutive term in power in Gujarat holding on to its current strength, all exit polls on TV channels suggested on Thursday.
The BJP is headed for a landslide win in Himachal Pradesh trouncing the incumbent Congress there and is set to begin a record sixth consecutive term in power in Gujarat holding on to its current strength, all exit polls on TV channels suggested on Thursday. All exit polls broadcast in the evening predicted a landslide win for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh and a victory in Gujarat, with one pollster indicating the BJP may register a spectacular victory with almost a three-fourths majority. For the Congress, the exit poll data is a disappointment after what many in the party say was their most spirited campaign in the state led by Rahul Gandhi, who is set to take the reins of the party as its new president on December 16. The lowest for the BJP in Gujarat has been predicted by India Today-Axis My India survey with 99-113 and the highest by News 24-Today’s Chanakya that forecast 124-146 seats for the BJP, up to 31 seats more than its present tally of 115 in the 182-member assembly. In the 2012 assembly polls in Gujarat, the BJP had won 115 seats, the Congress 61.
For Himachal Pradesh, with a strength of 68 seats, the lowest predicted for the Congress was 6 by News 24-Today’s Chanakya and the maximum for the BJP was 55 by Chanakya and India Today-Axis My India survey. In the 2012 polls in Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had won 36 and the BJP 26 seats. Gujarat has seen a high-decibel, bitter and intense campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the BJP while Gandhi led his party’s battle in the state. The last week of the campaign witnessed a public spat between the two parties after Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar using the word “neech” for the prime minister for which he was criticised vehemently.
The Congress suspended Aiyar from the primary membership of the party for his remark. The fight became worse when Modi alleged that former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former vice-president Hamid Ansari were among others who had conspired with their Pakistani guests at recent dinner at Aiyar’s residence to defeat the BJP in Gujarat. This triggered a strong response from Singh, who sought an apology from the PM. The November-December elections are seen as a referendum on BJP government’s economic policies after its ambitious moves like demonetisation and the rolling-out of the goods and services tax, which apparently had upset traders as well as small and medium industrialists.
The ongoing agitation by farmers in different parts of the state had troubled the BJP in rural areas during the campaign. If the exit polls are accurate, it will be a blow to Gandhi, who campaigned intensely in the state, changed from his usual style with extensive use of social media as well as temple-hopping. After the elections were announced, Gandhi made 12 temple visits, a move that was seen as an attempt to dispel the perception of his party being anti-Hindu. Gandhi also steered clear of making any overtures to the minority community for their votes. Political observers said a result that echoes the exit polls would energise the BJP for the 2019 polls in which its leaders are eyeing a repeat of 2014 and the return of Modi to power.