Analysts have called the Gujarat election a pivotal moment.
Ahmedabad/Shimla: It is 2-0 to the BJP, which has swept Himachal Pradesh and has also won Gujarat again, though by a decidedly lower margin of victory than last time. As most leads convert into wins, the BJP has crossed the 92 seats it needs for a majority in the 182-member Gujarat assembly, but is still struggling to make the psychological 100 mark. BJP leaders said the lower numbers in Gujarat are not a setback, what matters is winning. Party chief Amit Shah said an eight per cent gap between the BJP and Congress' vote share cannot be scoffed at. Rahul Gandhi has conceded defeat saying his party "accepts the verdict."
Here is your cheatsheet to the results of 2017 Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the BJP headquarters this evening for a felicitation and a meeting of the party's highest decision making body, the parliamentary board. He was greeted by Amit Shah and both leaders flashed victory signs. "Gujarat and Himachal results show that India is ready for reforms," the PM said.
Ten hours after counting of votes began, the BJP is ahead in 99 Gujarat seats, down 16 from last time, while the Congress is ahead in 80, up 19. The BJP has 49.1 per cent vote share (47.85 per cent in 2012) and the Congress 41.4 per cent (38.93 per cent in 2012).
Among seats that the BJP has ceded to the Congress is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hometown Vadnagar. The party has lost most ground in the Saurashtra region, but is also trailing in a few seats in north and central Gujarat that it had won in 2012. The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for the last two decades.
In Gujarat, almost 2 per cent of the voters chose the "none of the above" (NOTA) option, effectively rejecting candidates across the political spectrum. That's higher than the shares of all other parties apart from the BJP or Congress.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh "indicate a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP Karyakartas in these states for their hardwork which has led to these impressive victories."
"Dynasty, casteism and appeasement has lost to development," said BJP chief Amit Shah, attacking Rahul Gandhi, who took over as Congress chief two days ago from his mother Sonia Gandhi. The BJP chief attributed the BJP's lower numbers to the "Congress' caste politics and low level of political discourse."
Rahul Gandhi has tweeted, "My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress's greatest strength is its decency and courage."
"The Congress party's campaign under the leadership of Congress President Rahul Gandhi ji has led to a moral victory for our party in Gujarat," said senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot. Another senior leader Kamal Nath pointed out that the Congress' tally in Gujarat has gone up, stating, "This is the start of Rahul Gandhi's political story."
"Jo jeeta wahi sikandar (a win is a win)," said union minister Smriti Irani. "Victory is victory," said her cabinet colleague Prakash Javadekar.