The Congress is all set to form the next government in Himachal Pradesh, ousting the Bharatiya Janata Party. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has submitted his resignation to the state governor.
The Congress won 40 out of 68 seats, while the BJP won 25 constituencies. Independent candidates won three seats.
The state has not voted any incumbent government to power since 1985.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi thanked the people of Himachal Pradesh for the “decisive victory” of the party, and assured them that the party will fulfil its promises.
Here are the top updates of the day:
7.43 pm: As per the final tally on the Election Commission’s website, the Congress has won 40 seats in the 68-member Assembly. The BJP has won 25 constituencies, while Independent candidates won in the remaining three places.
7.30 pm: Narendra Modi, addressing BJP workers in Delhi, thanks voters in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. He says that the party lost by a very small margin in Himachal Pradesh.
7.04 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches the BJP headquarters in Delhi.
6.30 pm: Outgoing chief minister Jairam Thakur says that the BJP lost the Himachal Pradesh election by a difference of just 1% in vote share, ANI reports. “Congress won with least vote share in the state’s history,” he says. “But I respect the poll results. Hope Congress elects their CM soon & starts working for the state.”
6.23 pm: State Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj loses to the Congress’ Anirudh Singh from the Kasumpti constituency.
6.13 pm: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra thanks the residents of Himachal Pradesh for the party’s win in the state. “Best wishes to all Congress leaders and workers,” she says on Twitter. “Your hard work bore fruit.”
6.03 pm: The chief of the Congress’ Himachal Pradesh unit Pratibha Singh congratulates the residents of the state and party workers for the victory in the hill state. “This victory belongs to all of you,” she says.
5.40 pm: Narendra Modi thanks the people of Himachal Pradesh for their “affection and support” for the party. “We will keep working to fulfil the aspirations of the state and raise people’s issues in the times to come,” he says.
5.38 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to arrive at the BJP’s headquarters in Delhi around 7 pm, NDTV reports. He will address BJP members on the party’s showing in the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
5.16 pm: Congress leader and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son Vikramaditya Singh has retained his constituency of Shimla Rural, defeating the BJP’s Ravi Kumar Mehta by 13,860 votes.
5.04 pm: The Congress has crossed the majority mark in Himachal Pradesh, having won 35 out of 68 seats. It is leading in five more constituencies, according to the Election Commission’s data at 4.55 pm.
4.50 pm: Chief Minister Jairam Thakur says he has submitted his resignation to Governor Rajendra Arlekar, ANI reports. He asserts that he will never stop working for the development of the state’s residents.
“We need to analyse things,” Thakur says. “There were some issues that changed the direction of the results. I will go to Delhi if they call us.”
4.42 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi thanks the people of Himachal Pradesh for the “decisive victory” of the party, and assures them that the party will fulfil its promises.
“Hearty congratulations to all Congress workers and leaders,” he says on Twitter. “Your hard work and sacrifice are deserving of good wishes.”
4.38 pm: Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge meets the All India Congress Committee’s Himachal Pradesh in-charge Rajeev Shukla to congratulate him.
4.30 pm: Pratibha Singh, the chief of the Congress’ Himachal Pradesh unit, says that the party’s victory is an emotional moment for her, ANI reports. “I can see the same kind of support from people as it was for [her husband and former chief minister] Virbhadra Singh,” she says.
Pratibha Singh also claims that the party is not worried about poaching attempts by the BJP and says that its MLAs are meeting in Chandigarh as the city is easily accessible to all of them.
4.18 pm: As of 4.10 pm, the Congress has won 29 seats and is ahead in 10 more places. The BJP has won 16 seats, and is leading in 10 more constituencies.
Independent candidates have won three other seats.
4.07 pm: State minister and BJP leader Ram Lal Markanda loses to the Congress’ Ravi Thakur by 1,616 votes from the Lahaul and Spiti constituency.
3.58 pm: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge expresses gratitude to the people of Himachal Pradesh and party workers for its win in the state, ANI reports. “I want to thank Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra also helped us in this,” he says. “Sonia Gandhi’s blessings are also with us.”
3.52 pm: The All India Congress Committee’s Himachal Pradesh in-charge Rajeev Shukla says that the party will hold a meeting of all its newly-elected MLAs in Chandigarh, The Times of India reports.
A resolution authorising the Congress president to elect the chief of the legislature party is likely to be passed during the meeting, he says.
3.40 pm: The Congress has won 43.85% of the vote share in Himachal Pradesh, while the BJP has won 42.99% of the votes, according to the Election Commission’s data at 3.30 pm.
3.26 pm: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel says that the Congress needs to protect its MLAs from horse-trading attempts, PTI reports.
He says that the BJP can “go to any level” to secure power.
As of 3.20 pm, the Congress is ahead in 39 seats in the hill state, while the BJP is ahead in 26 constituencies.
3.22 pm: Jairam Thakur says he respects the people’s mandate and expresses gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rest of the BJP’s central leadership for their support in the past five years, according to ANI.
“We’ll stand for the development of the state irrespective of politics,” he says. “We’ll analyse our shortcoming and improve during the next term.”
3.05 pm: Outgoing Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur says he will submit his resignation to the governor soon, reports ANI.
3.03 pm: Celebrations underway in Shimla and New Delhi by Congress party workers.
2.50 pm: The Congress has won 11 seats and is now leading in 28 constituencies. The BJP has bagged 10 seats and is ahead in 36 others.
2.12 pm: Himachal Pradesh Congress thanks party workers for the “landslide victory” as it leads in over 35 seats.
“This victory is all of you,” the party tweets. “By creating history, the people of Himachal have given a clear message that this victory is of Himachal’s faith.”
2.03 pm: The Congress has won four seats and is now leading in 36 constituencies. The BJP has bagged four seats and is ahead in 20 others.
2.01 pm: Congress workers celebrate in Delhi as election trends predict party’s victory.
1.56 pm: Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda says the Congress will form the government in Himachal Pradesh going by the present election result trends, reports PTI.
“I would be leaving soon for Shimla along with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and AICC in-charge for Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Shukla,” he adds.
1.41 pm: BJP candidates win Ranbir Singh and Sukh Ram win Nurpur and Paonta Sahib seats.
BJP’s Anil Sharma bags Mandi seat by defeating Champa Thakur by 10,006 votes.
1.36 pm: Congress candidate Harish Janartha wins Shimla seat by defeating BJP’s Sanjay Sood by 3,037 votes.
1.28 pm: BJP now wins three more seats to take its tally to four, while Congress also bags one constituency. The BJP is leading in 21 seats and the Congress in 39.
12.58 pm: Former Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Kuldeep Rathore is leading by 3,395 votes against BJP candidate Ajay Shyam in Theog.
12.53 pm: Leader of Opposition Vikramaditya Singh says Congress state unit chief Pratibha Virbhadra Singh is one of the contenders of the chief minister’s post, reports ANI.
12.41 pm: Congress leaders Bhupesh Baghel, Bhupinder Hooda and Rajiv Shukla head to Himachal Pradesh as party inching towards winning the contest, reports PTI.
12.35 pm: As Congress surges past the majority mark, leading in 40 seats, the party is suspecting horse-trading. The fear came to light as Congress leader Vikramaditya Singh said the party will do anything to protect democracy when asked if the MLAs would be shifted out of Himachal Pradesh, reports ANI.
However, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel clarified that no MLAs were being moved to the state. Baghel, however, did not rule out foul play from the BJP.
12.33 pm: Congress workers distribute seat as party leads in 40 seats.
12.32 pm: The Congress is now leading in 40 seats. The BJP is ahead in 24 seats and has won the Sundernagar constituency.
12.12 pm: Rebel BJP leader Hoshyar Singh, who is contesting the Dehra seat as an Independent candidate, is leading by 5,240 votes against Congress’ Rajesh Sharma.
12.02 pm: The Congress is now ahead in 37 seats followed by BJP that is leading in 27 constituencies and has won Sundernagar seat.
11.56 am: Rebel BJP leader KL Thakur, who is contesting the Nalagarh seat as an Independent candidate, is ahead of BJP’s Lakhwinder Singh Rana by a comfortable margin of 10,737 votes.
11.51 am: BJP leader and Assembly Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar is leading by 2,828 seats against Independent candidate Jagijiwan Paul. Congress’ Jagdish Chand Sapehia has received just 2,629 votes so far.
11.42 am: Suresh Bhardwaj, the four-time Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from the Shimla (Urban) constituency, who is contesting the Kasumpti seat this time, is trailing behind Congress’ Anirudh Singh by 7,596.
11.28 pm: BJP’s Rakesh Kumar wins the Sundernagar seat, defeating Congress candidate Sohan Lal by 8,125 votes. The Congress, however, is leading in 38 constituencies, 12 more than the BJP.
11.22 am: Six-time Congress MLA from Dalhousie Asha Kumari is trailing behind BJP candidate Dhavinder Singh by 5,158 votes.
11.20 am: BJP minister Bikram Singh is leading in Jaswan-Pragpur constituency against Congress’ Surinder Singh Mankotia by a margin of 1,657 votes.
11.14 am: Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera asserts that his party will form government in the state, claiming that there is no close contest with the BJP, reports ANI.
11.12 am: The Congress again takes lead with gains in 34 seats, followed by the BJP with 31, shows Election Commission data.
10.50 am: Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur maintains a comfortable lead against Congress candidate in Seraj constituency by a margin of 20,425 votes.
10.45 am: The BJP and the Congress remain tied with leads in 32 seats. Independent candidates are leading in four seats and the Aam Aadmi Party is yet to make any gains.
10.36 am: BJP candidate Puran Chand was ahead of Congress’ Kaul Singh by 1,231 votes in Darang constituency.
10.33 am: Vikramaditya Singh, the son of former Congress Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, is ahead of BJP’s Ravi Kumar Mehta by a margin of 4,070 seats in the Shimla (rural) constituency.
10.31 am: Leader of Opposition and Congress leader Mukesh Agnihotri is ahead of BJP’s candidate Ram Kumar by 1,083 seats in Haroli constituency.
10.29 pm: The BJP takes lead in 33 seats, closely followed by the Congress with 31, shows Election Commission data.
10.20 am: The Congress and the BJP are still tied for the post, now with leads in 32 seats each as the Election Commission finally declares early trends for all the 68 constituencies. The Aam Aadmi Party is not leading on any seat yet.
10.18 am: Congress candidate Harish Janartha is marginally ahead of BJP’s Sanjay Sood by 884 votes in Shimla.
10.16 am: In Kasumpti seat, Congress MLA Anirudh Singh is looking to score his third consecutive win, presently leading against BJP minister Suresh Bhardwaj by 3,180 votes.
10.14 am: The Congress and BJP are again tied with both parties leading in 31 seats, shows Election Commission data. Independents are ahead in four seats.
10.06 am: Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was leading in the Seraj constituency against Congress’ Chet Ram by a margin of 10,570 votes.
10.02 am: The Congress takes the lead, gaining 32 seats. The BJP is closely behind with leads in 30 seats.
9.59 am: The Congress and the BJP are tied for the spot with both parties leading in 30 seats, , shows Election Commission data.
9.53 am: A close contest is emerging between the Congress and the BJP, shows Election Commission data. The BJP is leading in 30 seats, closely followed by the Congress with 28. The Aam Aadmi Party is yet to make gains.
9.48 am: Visuals of counting of votes from a government college in Shimla.
9.41 am: The BJP continues to remain ahead of the Congress, shows Election Commission data. It is leading in 31 seats, followed by the Congress with 23.
9.32 am: The BJP is ahead in 22 seats, Congress on 16 and Independent candidates on three seats, according to the Election Commission.
8.49 am: Early trends show the BJP is leading in 39 seats, closely followed by the Congress with 27, reported NDTV.
8.27 am: The BJP is leading in eight seats and the Congress is ahead in three, reports NDTV.
8.22 am: Visuals from a counting centre in Shimla.
8 am: The counting of votes begins.
7.45 am: Exit polls have predicted a close contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.
7.35 am: Visuals from Shimla ahead of the counting of votes.
7.25 am: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will look to stave off challenge from its main contender Congress in a state which has a four-decade old tradition of voting out the incumbent party. The Aam Aadmi Party will look to open its account in Himachal Pradesh, while the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will want to add to the one seat it held in the outgoing Assembly.
7 am: The counting for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls will begin at 8 am. The majority mark is 35.