The BJP swept to an unprecedented two-thirds majority in Uttar Pradesh and bagged Uttarakhand too and was neck and neck with the Congress in Goa and Manipur in the country's biggest mandate since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Congress consolation was that it returned to power in Punjab after a 10-year gap.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh in a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, halfway through his first term, and decimated rivals, the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the BSP.
Riding on the Modi wave, the BJP swept to an unprecedented two-thirds majority winning a whopping 312 seats — a never-before showing by any party in the country’s most populated state entrenched deeply in caste, family and religious affiliations.
The BJP victory left the ruling Samajwadi Party with 47 seats, its ally the Congress with just seven seats, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) scored a pathetic 19.
“I give my heartfelt thanks to the people of Uttar Pradesh. This is a historic victory for the BJP; a victory for development and good governance,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
Even in Amethi and Rae Bareli parliamentary constituencies — long considered Congress strongholds — the BJP won six out of 10 assembly seats, the Samajwadi Party two, leaving the grand old party gasping with just two.
A beaming Amit Shah, the BJP president, in his first media comments after the party’s grand electoral success, drew specific attention to its performance in the twin Lok Sabha constituencies, held by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy and son Rahul Gandhi.
“This is making us very happy. We didn’t do well here (Amethi and Rae Bareli) in 2014. But from now, politics will take a new direction in Uttar Pradesh.
“The historic mandate given to the BJP… will end the politics of caste, dynasty (parivarvaad) and appeasement,” Shah said.
Modi was central to the BJP’s election strategy in Uttar Pradesh where the party had not announced its Chief Ministerial candidate. Modi promised growth, modernisation and rooting out corruption in the state.
Shah said the chief ministerial candidate would be selected on Sunday by the BJP Parliamentary Board and the legislature party in the state.
In his high decibel electioneering, Modi strongly defended his move to ban high-value notes last year, a move that was criticized by the opposition.
The previous best BJP performance in Uttar Pradesh was in 1991, at the height of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid movement. It got a majority on its own, winning 221 of 425 seats in an undivided state.
In the outgoing assembly, the BJP had just 47 seats.
The BJP garnered nearly 40 per cent of the votes in this election, the SP got 21.8 per cent, the Congress just over six per cent, while the BSP garnered 22.2 per cent.
The results in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80, the largest, members to the Lok Sabha would help the BJP in presidential elections due in July. The BJP would now also be able to strengthen its position in the Rajya Sabha, where its reform efforts have been hampered by the lack of a majority.
The incumbent Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the Samajwadi Party chief, met Governor Ram Naik and handed in his resignation. Yadav told a press conference here that he accepted the verdict and would do an analysis at the booth level.
“I hope the next government will work better than the Samajwadi Party government.”
Congress leaders expressed shock.
“It is a monumental setback. We are disappointed with Uttar Pradesh,” party spokesman Sanjay Jha said.
But BSP leader Mayawati attributed the rout to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which she said were manipulated. She urged the poll panel to cancel the polls and hold fresh elections.
The BJP victory also saw many members of the Uttar Pradesh’s first family swept away, while the 43-year-old Chief Minister lost his chair.
The Yadavs, who were till not-so-long ago considered invincible, were routed in most seats that they contested. The younger daughter-in-law of the Yadav chieftain, Aparna Yadav, lost from Lucknow Cantt to Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who had switched to BJP from the Congress.
Anurag Yadav, elder son of Mulayam’s brother Abhayram Yadav, contested from the Sarojini Nagar seat in the state capital, but failed to make it to the 17th Vidhan Sabha.
Ram Prakash Yadav aka Nehru, a close relative of the SP founder, also lost from Shikohabad assembly constituency in Firozabad.
However, the only saving grace for the Yadavs was former state unit chief Shivpal Singh Yadav, who cruised comfortably to victory from the Jaswantnagar seat in Etawah. He won with a margin of over 50,000 votes.
A euphoric Bharatiya Janata Party called it a “historic” verdict that would make a major impact on Indian politics even as the Congress admitted it was stunned by the scale of the verdict in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
From being the third largest group in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, the BJP, powered by an aggressive campaign spearheaded by Modi, catapulted to winning a whopping 324 seats — a never-before showing by any party in the country’s most populous state.
The victory left the ruling Samajwadi Party and its ally Congress punctured with just 55 seats while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was left with a pathetic 19 seats. While Samajwadi Party leader and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav promptly resigned, BSP leader Mayawati attributed the rout to the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which she said were manipulated.
The Congress suffered an equally humiliating defeat in neighbouring Uttarakhand too. The BJP ousted it from power, winning 57 of the 70 seats, some of the victors being disgruntled Congress veterans who had joined the saffron outfit.
The Congress was left with just 11 legislators, with outgoing Chief Minister Harish Rawat losing both the seats he contested, one narrowly, to his BJP opponents.
“It is a monumental setback. We are disappointed with Uttar Pradesh,” Congress spokesman Sanjay Jha said. Added Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit: “Our party is looking confused.”
But other party leaders rushed to defend Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, saying he alone must not be blamed for the rout in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress, having become in recent decades an also-ran, aligned with the Samajwadi Party just before the staggered assembly election.
BJP-ruled Goa, however, appeared headed for a hung assembly, with both the Congress and the BJP claiming they will form the government in the coastal state.
The Congress inched towards becoming the single largest party in the 40-member house winning 18 seats while the BJP had netted 14. The balance of power now lay in the hands of smaller parties including Goa Forward and the MGP. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was routed.
With 26 winners, the Congress also led the BJP (22 winners) in the troubled northeastern state of Manipur that it rules. But with both groups falling short of a majority in the 60-member house, smaller parties will play a key role in government formation.
The Congress had plenty to celebrate in Punjab where it returned to power comfortably after a decade in the opposition, crushing both the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine as well as the AAP that was confident of winning in the border state.
Led by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who turned 75 on Saturday, the Congress won as many as 77 of the 117 seats, leaving the AAP with just 22 seats but as the main opposition in the assembly. The Akalis and BJP had just 18 seats, with as many as 10 ministers worsted in the battle.
Prime Minister Modi telephoned Amarinder Singh to congratulate him. The AAP, which had invested heavily in Punjab, licked its wounds, its leaders saying they would introspect to know what went wrong.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP’s success rate enveloped both urban and rural areas and appeared to demolish traditional caste equations. BJP candidates won in all major cities including Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur and Varanasi, Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency.
While the Congress fared not so badly in Rae Bareli, it took a drubbing in Amethi, Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha seat.
BJP leader Yogi Adityanath said: “Good work done by the Modi government and (BJP President) Amit Shah’s strategy has paid dividends.” (IANS)