The BJP and Congress were locked in a close flight for Gujarat, with the former consolidating its leads after a bit of a scare. There are still seven more rounds of counting to go and the numbers could change. The BJP, meanwhile, seems set to win Himachal Pradesh, currently governed by the Congress. The big news of the elections so far is that Gujarat is no longer the cakewalk it has been for the ruling party for well over two decades. The Congress under Rahul Gandhi has thrown light on the chinks in the BJP’s armour and also underlined that demonetisation and GST has not gone down well with some of the trading community.
It’s counting day in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where the BJP and Congress respectively are hoping to retain power following weeks of an intense and sometimes bitter campaign. An hour after counting began, it’s neck and neck between the Congress and BJP in Gujarat. At 9 am, the Congress was leading in 90 seats while the BJP was at 88. If one were to go by the exit-polls analysis, the BJP was expected to retain Gujarat and also win Himachal Pradesh, that is currently governed by the Congress Party.
In Gujarat, the focus was on which way the Patidar vote swings given it constitutes 12 per cent of the state’s voteshare. The Congress was hoping to cash-in on the anti-BJP sentiment in the community but it was interesting tp see if the vote does indeed go to the Congress. The other community that has been up against the ruling BJP is that of traders following the implementation of GST. These voters, too, have expressed their dismay at the state government but, if pollsters are the be believed, will vote with the BJP.
In Himachal Pradesh, where the government alternates between the Congress and the BJP, four of the five exit-polls predict a win for the BJP. Six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has campaigned extensively in the state without much backing from the top leadership of the party. The BJP, during its campaign, announced Prem Kumar Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate – a move that had given it a winning edge.