Saffron surge as BJP captures Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand

NEW DELHI: The BJP headed for a stunning victory on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, trampling a fragmented opposition that had hoped the demonetisation exercise would have chipped away at Prime Minister Narendra Modi''s popularity.

Saffron surge as BJP captures Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand

BJP members celebrate the party''s victory in UP and Uttarakhand elections, at the party office in Varanasi on Saturday. PTI

amansharma@tribunemail.com

New Delhi, March 11

The BJP headed for a stunning victory on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, trampling a fragmented opposition that had hoped the demonetisation exercise would have chipped away at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

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Modi's party was now set to return to power in Uttar Pradesh after a 15-year gap during which regional parties such as the SP and BSP had held sway.

"The Prime Minister has clearly established himself as the predominant leader in India," said Aarti Jerath, a political analyst, on NDTV.

BJP president Amit Shah, who crafted and conducted the election strategy in UP, credited Modi and his policies for the victory.

"This is the victory of the corruption-free rule and pro-poor polices under the leadership" of Modi, he tweeted.

"BJP has reached new heights in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and changed the political picture of the country," Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said amid scenes of jubilation at party offices in UP.

Party members danced and distributed sweets on streets and BJP offices. Women gathered in groups to watch results on TV danced as the results came in. One party leader said Holi, which will be celebrated on Sunday and Monday, has come a day early.

Terming the BJP victory as "shocking" and "difficult to swallow", BSP leader Mayawati hinted at vote fraud in the elections that were spread over seven phases during the last two months in the five states.

She provided no evidence for her allegation, and it is unlikely to be taken seriously. Her party is expected to finish third.

Along with its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal Patel)and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), the BJP will have a comfortable two-thirds majority in the 403-member UP legislative assembly.

The party had, however, not put forward any chief ministerial candidate. BJP leaders said the decision will be taken by the BJP parliamentary board and the legislature party in the state soon.

The BJP, which had just 47 seats in the outgoing Assembly, garnered 40 per cent vote share in the most riveting contest seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Modi's popularity and demonetisation.

The party also went to the elections without fielding any Muslim candidate.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi acknowledged that the party's defeat was massive.

"Yes, UP is a bad loss, it hurts...I agree that, in UP, we need fundamental restructuring thinking for the Congress as a whole. These have to be hard, tough decisions about strategy," Singhvi said.

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.

SP leader and a state minister, Gayatri Prajapati, who is wanted in an alleged gangrape case and attempt to rape a minor, lost in Amethi, to Garima Singh (BJP), the first wife of Congress leader Sanjay Sinh.

Kailash Vijaywargia, a BJP general secretary, said the perception that the BJP was a party of the upper castes has been demolished as all sections of the society, including Dalits and Muslims voted for it.

"The central government schemes have benefitted everyone.

Muslim women have also benefitted from the schemes. Modi has created confidence in every section," he said.

In Uttarakhand, the BJP put up a splendid show and bagged clear majority. Congress Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost Haridwar (Rural) and Kichcha seats to BJP.

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad attributed the party's poor show in the politically crucial UP to "public mood" and said its performance will be "scrutinised".

He, however, stressed that Congress' gains in Punjab and likeliness of the party forming government in Goa, ruled by the BJP until before the elections, should not be ignored.

In Punjab, the Congress got clear majority while the AAP, making a debut in Punjab Assembly polls, was in second position.

The ruling SAD-BJP combine was relegated to third position.

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 Goa, while the Congress is set to emerge as the single largest party followed by the BJP, neither are close to the half-way mark which gives plenty of bargaining power to the newly-formed smaller parties.

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.

In Manipur, BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) is set to form the next government in Manipur with a wafer-thin majority as no party has gained simple majority in the 60-member Manipur Assembly.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh won from Thoubal Assembly seat by a margin of 10,400 votes. Rights activist Irom Sharmila, making her poll debut, was relegated to the fourth position. — PTI 

Final tally for five states

Uttar Pradesh

Total seats: 403

BJP+

SP+Cong

BSP

Others

325

 56

19

 3

 

Punjab

Total seats: 117

Congress

AAP+

SAD+BJP

Others

77

22

18

 

 

Uttarakhand

Total seats: 70

BJP

Congress

Others

57

 11

2

 

Manipur

Total seats: 60

Congress

BJP

Others

 28

21

11

 

Goa

Total seats: 40

Congress+

BJP+

Others

18

14

8

 

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