After weeks of high-octane acrimonious campaigning, the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly election results are set to be announced today, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hoping to wear away anti-incumbency in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state and the Congress in the northern hill state.
Exit polls have predicted a clean victory for the BJP in both Gujarat, where it has been in power for over 22 years now, and in Himachal Pradesh, where the two parties have tended to alternate in government.
An aggregate of all nine exit polls conducted in the poll-bound Gujarat has predicted that the BJP will sweep the elections with a clear majority, claiming victory on 116 seats – one more than they won in 2012.
In the case of Himachal Pradesh, not only was there unanimity on a BJP win, all except one poll predicted a massive win for the party with anywhere between 42 and 55 seats in the 68-member assembly.
However, Congress has ridiculed the predictions by exit polls, claiming that the results will be “surprising”.
Gujarat Assembly elections is more or less considered as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the newly-elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The Gujarat elections are also seen as a test of not only PM Modi’s dominance in electoral politics, but also whether the people of the state have embraced his government’s policy of demonetisation and implementation of GST or not.
Meanwhile, the fate of 337 candidates, including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal, will be known as counting of votes is taken up in Himachal Pradesh.
In Himachal Pradesh, corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Singh, while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetisation.
Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every election and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.
While the BJP is confident of winning the polls with a comfortable majority, the Congress has rejected the exit-polls and claimed that it was all set to repeat.
The BJP ousted the Congress in 1990 and the Congress avenged defeat in 1993. The BJP formed the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress in 1998 and the Congress was back in power in 2003. The BJP made a comeback in 2007.
In Gujarat, the election results will be announced when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts, amid tight security.
In Himachal, the counting of votes for all 68 Assembly constituencies that went to polls on 9 November would be taken up today at 42 counting centres simultaneously and the results are likely to be declared by noon.