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Posted at: May 23, 2019, 8:08 AM; last updated: May 23, 2019, 11:20 PM (IST)MAHA VERDICT 2019

BJP set to return to power as Modi wave sweeps most of India

Election Results 2019
  NDA UPA Others
Leads  349 90 103

New Delhi, May 23

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a super-sized victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country.

With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will surpass its 2014 performance, and likely cross 300 seats.

The BJP demolished the combined opposition, including the Congress.

In the end, BJP's prediction in the final stages of campaigning of "ab ki baar 300 paar" appeared coming true, as Congress president Rahul Gandhi's campaign slogan of "chowkidar chor hai" found no resonance among voters. In almost all the states where BJP won, its vote share was more than 50 per cent.

The results have raised questions about Gandhi's leadership and his party's future. At a press conference, Gandhi refused to address that issue, saying the party will hold a meeting on Friday to discuss the future.

If the trends stay until final results, the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance will likely end up with 349 seats, up from 336 in 2014. The BJP, which is now tantalisingly close to the 300 mark in Lok Sabha, had won 282 seats on its own in the last election.

The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.

Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave and the party's brilliant election management swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.  

In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP had won two and was leading in 59 of the 80 seats at stake. The SP was ahead in six and BSP in 10. Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is much better than what many exit polls had forecast.

The BJP state headquarters in Lucknow was drenched in saffron hue with jubilant party workers wearing saffron stoles, adorning 'genda' flowers around their necks and holding lotus cutouts. They also burst crackers and danced to drum beats as women supporters wore saffron attire and painted their nails in the same hue.

In a stark contrast, Congress, BSP and SP offices wore a forlorn look. Under the scorching sun, even shop owners selling campaign material outside the SP office sat in stunned silence as those gathered around the tea kiosks talked in hushed tones.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi lost his seat in Amethi to BJP's Smriti Irani. He, however, was on course to win Wayanad in Kerala.

The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected, but also rippled through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP was ahead in four seats, the same as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.

However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress.

After Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Narendra Modi is the third prime minister of the country—and the first non-Congress one—who has been able to retain power for a second term with full majority in Lok Sabha.

The results were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: in Madhya Pradesh, BJP was ahead in 28 out of 29 seats with a vote percentage of nearly 60; in Rajasthan it was leading in all but one of 25 seats; similarly in Chhattisgarh, BJP was ahead in nine compared to Congress' 2 seats.

The BJP is expected to take all 10 seats in Haryana.

In Odisha, the BJP made huge gains, forging ahead in six of the 21 seats while the Biju Janata Dal was ahead in 15. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 seats and BJP took one. Odisha also held simultaneous Assembly polls, in which the BJD is set to return to power, indicating that the voters chose smartly, opting for the status quo in both state and centre.

BJP and its ally Janata Dal (United) were ahead in 16 seats each in Bihar out of 40 at stake.

The Trinamool Congress Party was leading in 23 of 42 seats of West Bengal while BJP was ahead in 19, up from two it held in 2014. The Left was wiped out in the state, once its citadel.  

The DMK was ahead in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK was leading in only two. In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF was ahead in 19 out of 20 seats.

In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009. PTI

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