New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his party to a stupendous victory in UP Saturday, ending the BJP’s 14-year exile in India’s most-populous state, considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Indian politics.
The BJP with its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal Patel) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) is set to win three-fourth majority in the 403-seat Assembly, trampling the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and decimating the state’s other regional boss Mayawati.
On the next chief minister in the state, BJP leaders said the decision will be taken by the BJP parliamentary board and the legislature party in the state soon.
The mandate that reaffirmed Narendra Modi’s standing among the masses is seen as an endorsement of his popular agendas, especially demonetisation. It looks like the BJP has bettered on its Lok Sabha sweep when it won 71 of the 80 parliamentary constituencies.
The previous best showing by BJP in UP was in 1991, at the height of Ram Janam Bhoomi movement, when it got majority on its own winning 221 seats out of 425 in an undivided state.
Counting of votes began at 8 am in Assembly polls in five states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.
The BJP is winning Uttarakhand too, defeating the Congress that was racked by infighting in the last term in governance.
Congress has won Punjab as predicted where popular sentiment was against the SAD-BJP coalition that has ruled the state for the last two terms. Surprisingly, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party did not fare as well as predicted but looks like it will come second to the Congress.
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh, who is the party’s chief ministerial face, thanked people of the state for their overwhelming support. The Congress legislature party will meet tomorrow to elect its leader, he said.
In Manipur, the Congress is riding the popularity of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who defeated political debutant and activist Irom Sharmila, who could win only 51 votes. Leads favour the Congress but BJP is not far behind. A hung Assembly may stop the Congress’ quest for a fourth term in power.
The Congress has also taken a lead in Goa, but the BJP is snapping at its heels. The BJP suffered a big reverse when Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lost to his Congress rival from Mandrem. Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat (Congress) won from Margao constituency.
Overjoyed BJP workers in Uttar Pradesh broke into celebrations and raised victory slogans across party offices in the state. Workers raised slogans like ‘Chappa Chappa Bhajpa’, ‘Kahan pade ho chakkar mein, koi nahin hai takkar mein’ and ‘Modi Modi’. The ruling Samajwadi Party’s office wore a deserted look.
BJP party chief Amit Shah told the media that Uttar Pradesh’s phenomenal win was a vote for the ‘politics of performance’ which has effectively silenced the politics of casteism, pacification and dynasty.
He announced that the BJP had done extremely well in the traditional Nehru-Gandhi bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareilly parliamentary constituencies by picking up 6 of the 10 Assembly seats here. “We had not done well here in 2014,” Shah said.
Shah was confident that the BJP would form governments in close-call states Manipur and Goa.
Hailing Narendra Modi as the ‘tallest leader since Independence’, Shah said the people voted for Modi because he had come good on his 2014 poll promises and established himself as a pro-poor leader.
Shah also said the five-state mandate today was a tight slap on the face of the Opposition that ran a smear campaign against Modi.
In UP, the Samajwadi Party dug its own grave last year in the middle of an intense power struggle with party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and brother Shivpal on one side and son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and cousin Ramgopal on the other.
The two factions sacked each other from party posts in a free-for-all earlier this year, even fighting for the party symbol. This was before Akhilesh decided to tie up with the Congress to thwart a resurgent BJP. That obviously did not go down too well with the grassroots as the results now show.
There have been loud grumblings from SP leaders that Congress candidates had contested against the Samajwadi Party in certain constituencies paving the way for the BJP to take advantage of the vote divide.
Party leaders said the alliance may have helped the Congress but it certainly did not do anything for the SP.
A victory in Uttar Pradesh will be a boost BJP president Amit Shah’s authority as capturing power in Uttar Pradesh has been a dream project for the party after it was reduced to the margins of the state politics that it ruled for much of the 1990s.
Shah has been seen as the architect of the party’s outreach to various social groups, mostly OBCs and Dalits.
Amit Shah credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-poor policies for his party’s big win in Uttar Pradesh. “This is the victory of the corruption-free rule and pro-poor policies under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he tweeted as he congratulated party leaders and workers for the victory in UP and Uttarakhand. He also greeted the people for keeping faith in the BJP.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh described the BJP’s performance as “mega victory”, saying the party has changed the political narrative in the country with the win. “This is not a victory but a mega victory. The BJP has changed the political narrative of the country by touching new heights of success in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” he said amid scenes of jubilation at party offices in UP with one party leader saying Holi has come a day early.
Singh said the BJP’s win in the elections is a win of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credibility in the public, his able leadership and party’s commitment to good governance. “The credit of victory goes to organisational ability of our national President (Amit Shah) and the hardwork of party workers. We thank the people of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for handing us a historic victory,” he said.
This BJP win will also boost its strength in the Rajya Sabha where the Congress-led opposition has been able to block the government’s legislative agenda due to its numerical superiority.
The Congress, on the other hand, has sought to insulate party vice president Rahul Gandhi from any negative fallout saying poll results are never a referendum on any single individual.
The most riveting contest is in Uttar Pradesh, which is seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and his reforms agenda.
In 2012, the Samajwadi Party swept to power defeating incumbent chief minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party which had got an absolute majority in the previous elections.
SP had won 224 seats of the 401 it contested, garnering a vote share of 29.15 per cent with an upswing of 3.72 per cent over the last elections.
The BSP had got 80 seats with a 25.91 per cent vote share. The BJP managed 47 seats with 15 per cent vote share, while the Congress got 28 seats with 11.63 per cent vote share.
In the 2014 general elections, however, the BJP captured Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 of the 80 parliamentary seats. It got a vote share of 42.30 per cent. The SP managed only 5 seats with a vote share of 22.2 per cent, the Congress and Apna Dal got 2 seats each while Mayawati was left high and dry.
Congress is claiming it will wrest power in Punjab. All exit polls have predicted a wipeout for the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance and contest is seen between the Congress and the Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.
Votes were counted at 54 centres in 27 locations set up for election to 117-member Punjab Assembly.
The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine came to power in Punjab in 2012 for the second term, winning 68 of the 117 seats. The total vote share of the combine was around 42 per cent.
The Congress won 46 seats with a vote share of nearly 40 per cent, while Independents got 3.
In the 2014 general elections, the Aam Aadmi Party won 4, the SAD-BJP alliance 4 and Congress’ UPA 3 – down from 8 in 2009.
But incumbency hangs heavy on the SAD-BJP alliance this time in the face of a resurgent Congress and dark horse AAP.
In Goa, votes were counted at two centres in North and South Goa to declare the winners in 40 seats.
In 2012, the BJP-Maharashtrawadi Gomantak had defeated incumbent Congress-led by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, getting 24 of Goa’s 40 seats. The BJP won 21 seats. Between the two, they lapped up a vote share of 41 per cent.
In 2014, the BJP picked up both Lok Sabha seats in Goa – taking one away from the Congress.
A total of 637 candidates including 56 contested for 70 seats in the Uttarakhand Assembly. 15 counting centres were established in Uttarakhand where the Assembly strength is 70.
In 2012, the BJP tried to cash in on former chief minister BC Khanduri’s clean image but bagged only 31 of the 70 seats putting Congress in the driver’s seat. The Grand Old Party had emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats and 33.79% vote share, but the BJP lost with a very small margin and got 33.13% vote share.
The BSP could only win in three seats of the 70 it contested, with 12.19 vote share.
In the 2014 general elections, BJP cast its spell on Uttarakhand and won all five seats form the state with 55.30% vote share.
In Manipur, counting of votes were held for 60 seats. Congress’ Okram Ibobi Singh has ruled in Manipur for 15 years.
Congress emerged as the lone giant in 2012 Manipur Assembly polls and achieved a hat-trick win by securing 42 of the 60 seats in the state. It was sweet victory for Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh as the party got 42.42 vote share.
The All India Trinamool Congress came second with 7 seats and 17% vote share. BJP could not make a mark in the state and did not win a single seat.
In the 2014 general elections too, Congress reigned supreme and won both the seats in Manipur.