View from India: BJP wins elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won the General Election to the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh (HP) in 2017.

The crux of the General Elections is that BJP has retained its power in Gujarat, as it has secured its sixth victory in the Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017. On Monday morning, the Election Commission (EC) began to count the votes polled in Gujarat and the counting indicates that the BJP has won 99 seats, short of one for a century. Congress has won 77 seats in Gujarat. As far as HP is concerned, the results indicate that it has won a clear majority with 44 seats, while Congress has secured 22. Incidentally, since 1985, HP has had BJP and Congress parties ruling the state alternately.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi - who led a high-voltage campaign and won - said, “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 hard work which has led to these impressive victories.”

Gujarat is Modi’s home state and an upbeat PM tweeted after BJP parliamentary board meeting, describing it as an honour to serve Gujarat, “The victory in Gujarat is special. Starting from 1989, people of Gujarat have been blessing BJP in every Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha election. It is an honour to be serving Gujarat for so many years. We will continue to work for Gujarat’s growth,” Modi said.

Prior to the election, many weeks of campaigning saw the PM being rivaled by Rahul Gandhi. The newly elected Congress President has taken over the post of the President two days ago from his mother Sonia Gandhi. What is interesting is that Rahul Gandhi has rallied in the PM’s home turf in Gujarat. Though the tides were not favourable, the experience will help mould him for the forthcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.

BJP has been in power in Gujarat since 1998 and the present elections indicate that it has retained its power this time too, but it has witnessed a reduced margin. To form a government in Gujarat, a party or a coalition needs at least 92 seats. As per the Election Commission, the ruling party has so far got 49.1 per cent of total votes polled, and this is a marginal increase from 48 per cent that it had got in 2012. On its part, the Congress which had a 39 per cent vote share in 2012 has gone up to 41.4 per cent in 2017.

Understandably, both PM and the BJP chief Amit Shah have enjoyed a rousing welcome at the party office for the party’s victory in Gujarat and HP.

Looking ahead, the results of the General Election in both Gujarat and HP are expected to impact the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.

Post elections, one hopes that the stock market - which witnessed a meltdown due to the race between BJP and Congress during the elections - will pick up as the Christmas season kicks in. Based on early trends that pointed to a neck-and-neck competition between the BJP and Congress, the Sensex has closed 138 points higher after falling 800 points intraday, while the Nifty has ended the day 55 points after tumbling more than 250 points in the opening hour.

It’s also a surprise that demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) seem to have had very little impact on the outcome of the election. 

“The results in Himachal Pradesh show that people will reject parties lacking development agenda and are embroiled in all wrong acts. Today, when a government comes after five years is hailed as a miracle. Gujarat is an exception in terms of anti-incumbency. It has supported BJP and its allies since 1990s,” says PM Modi.

Narendra Modi has led the BJP in the 2014 General Election, which gave the party a majority in the Lok Sabha. Now, we need to wait and watch the political drama unfold in other states like Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Karnataka, which go to polls soon.

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