The Congress won just 11 seats out of the 69 seats declared, down from its 2012 tally of 32 seats when it had formed the government with support from the Bahujan Samaj Party. The Election Commission is yet to announce results for the Lohaghat seat, where one electronic voting machine conked out during counting. A repoll has been slated for next Wednesday for 500-odd voters served by this machine. The BJP was leading, but by a slender margin of 148 votes.
Mr Rawat had first lost the chief minister's chair last March when the Centre imposed President's rule when he was battling a rebellion within the party but was reinstated on the intervention of the Supreme Court that ruled he should have got a chance to face the trust vote in the assembly. He won the battle, but it seems, was losing the plot. Many legislators including Vijay Bahuguna, who he had replaced in 2014, switched sides and joined the BJP which had fielded them.
It didn't help that the Congress campaign in the state seemed to center around Mr Rawat - one video even projected him as Baahubali, the young hero of the blockbuster 2015 movie - who had been the target of sting operations that appeared to show him in poor light. And he was neither a match for the BJP's concerted campaign that attacked his administration for corruption nor was the Congress able to match the long list of BJP's star campaigners that also had Prime Minster Narendra Modi.
But on Saturday the outgoing chief minister seemed prepared for the big loss. Three exit polls had forecast a landslide victory for the BJP, the fourth said the two were neck-and-neck. The aggregate - the poll of exit polls - showed that the BJP will win the state with 42 seats. Appearing before the cameras after the drubbing, Mr Rawat owned responsibility for the "poor" show, attributing the Congress being decimated to "flaws in his own leadership".
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