The Bharatiya Janata Party has swept the Uttarakhand Assembly polls, winning 42 of its 70 seats as of 4 pm on Saturday. The Congress followed in second spot, winning 11 seats so far. The polls were a test for the incumbent Congress, which has battled infighting in the state for the past year.
The 70-seat Uttarakhand Assembly had its elections on February 15, recording a turnout of 68%. Besides corruption charges, the Congress government in the state has struggled with infighting and anti-incumbency. Last year, the Harish Rawat government had a difficult time when the President’s rule was imposed in the state after nine Congress leaders joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Since the first elections, which were conducted in 2002, the BJP and the Congress have held governments alternately. Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna had joined the BJP in May 2016 and was a key player this election.
Most exit polls on Thursday had predicted a close fight between the Congress and the BJP, but the saffron party took an early lead before.
Here is how the day panned out:
16.30 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the people of India for the historic win. “Gratitude to the people of India for the continued faith, support and affection for the BJP. This is very humbling and overwhelming,” he said. The victory in Uttarakhand is very special, Modi said, adding that the party will serve the people with complete dedication.
“We believe in the power of 125 crore Indians,” he tweeted.
16.25 pm: Uttarakhand BJP president Ajay Bhatt lost to Karan Mahara of Congress in Ranikhet constituency by 4,981 votes.
16.20 pm: Harish Rawat said he accepted the defeat his party experienced in Uttarakhand. during a press conference on Saturday. “There was something lacking in my leadership as a result of which Congress lost,” Rawat said.
15.45 pm: Outgoing Chief Minister Harish Rawat tendered resignation from the post, ANI reported.
14.45 pm: The BJP has won 12 seats in Uttarakhand as of now, and Congress has three. Independents have won none so far.
14.33 pm: Chief Minister Harish Rawat has lost from Kichha as well to BJP’s Rajesh Shukla by 2154 votes, PTI reports.
14.01 pm: The BJP has won eight seats while the Congress has won only three as of now, according to the EC.
14.00 pm: Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat will meet Governor KK Paul at 3 pm. He is likely to resign, reported the Hindustan Times.
13.58 pm: Union Minister Sadananda Gowda said the BJP’s win in UP and Uttarakhand was a “reflection of people’s faith” in PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. “The historic win in UP and Uttarakhand is the mood of the nation towards ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas’,” he tweeted.
13.28 pm: The BJP and Congress are tied at two seats each.
13.20 pm: The BJP’s Saurabh Bahuguna, Vijay Bahuguna’s son, won the Sitarganj seat by over 28,000 votes. Vijay Bahuguna, former Congress chief minister of the state, had joined the BJP last year. Another rebel Congress leader who joined BJP, Satpal Maharaj, was leading by about 4,000 votes in Chaubattakhal.
People of UP and Uttarakhand have rejected the divisive politics of Congress, SP and BSP and voted as Indians for the nation’s bright future, said BJP National Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
12.41 pm: Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the BJP had changed the political scene in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand with historic win. “BJP’s victory shows public’s faith in PM Modi, his able leadership and governance,” Rajnath tweeted. He thanked the voters for the “historic win” in both the states.
12.35 pm: The BJP was leading in 57 seats, while the Congress only had nine, and four seats went to Independents.
12.30 pm: Chief Minister Harish Rawat loses from Kichha as well, ANI reports.
12.02 pm: Chief Minister Harish Rawat has lost from Haridwar (Rural) constituency by over 12,000 votes, ANI reports.
11.41 am: Ajay Bhatt, who was BJP’s state president as well as the leader of Opposition, is trailing in Ranikhet constituency. Bhatt could be a strong chief ministerial candidates for the party. In Ranikhet, Congress’ Karan Mahara was leading with 4,652.
11.38 am: Harak Singh Rawat, who had joined the BJP after leaving the Congress, was leading from Kotdwar constituency with 15,420 votes. Another turncoat, Satpal Maharaj, who joined BJP in 2014, was leading in Chaubattakhal. Senior Congress leader Sanjay Jha said the party was disappointed in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
10.55 am: These are the official numbers from the ECI:
10.35 am: The anti-incumbency trend has proven to continue in Uttarakhand. Last year, as many as nine rebel Congress leaders had joined the BJP. This defection was believed to be a disadvantage for the BJP, however, results show it has not affected them at all.
Of the 14 Congress leaders who joined the BJP between 2012 and 2017, 10 of them were leading, including Harak Singh Rawat (Kotdwar), Yashpal Arya (Bajpur), Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saurabh (Sitarganj).
10.30 am: The BJP was leading with 48 seats, while the Congress has 10, according to the EC. Four seats went to the Independents.
10.20 am: Harish Rawat found a lot of support from the faraway villages in Haridwar, which form a Muslim-Dalit belt. Haridwar villagers believed that Rawat’s daughter Anupama Rawat would be the Congress candidate from the area since she has been taking up farmer issues there. Anupama Rawat’s work is also believed to be more focused in the said belt.
While demonetisation is a current topic, the Garhwal-Kumaon divide has always been a part of Uttarakhand politics. So, when the Kumaoni chief minister announced his intention to contest the elections from these two seats in the plains, it was taken as a clear signal that he means to address this divide.
10 am: The BJP is leading in 42 seats to cross the halfway mark, while Congress is leading only in 9 seats, EC says. One seat has gone to an Independent.
9.50 am: CM Harish Rawat, who was contesting from two constituencies – Haridwar Rural and Kichha – is trailing from both seats, according to EC. BJP’s Yatishwaranand was leading from Hairdwar Rural and Rajesh Shukla, BJP candidate was leading from Kichha.
9.42 am: These are the official numbers from the ECI:
9.35 am: The BJP has already crossed the half-way mark, India Today reports.
9.33 am: CNN-News18 has called the elections in Uttarakhand in favour of the BJP.
9.24 am: BJP leading in 18 seats and Congress in three, according to the Election Commission. BSP was leading with one seat while Independent candidates had two.
9.20 am: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat was leading from his constituency Haridwar Rural, reported ANI.
9.10 am: BJP’s Harbans Kapoor is leading from Dehradun Cantt, while Congress candidate Mayukh Mahar is leading in Pithoragarh, Firstpost reported. BJP candidates in Champawat, Haridwar and Almora are also leading.
8.48 am: Congress and BJP have one seats each in early trends, according to NDTV.
The BJP campaigned for the election as if Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself was their chief ministerial candidate, Kishore Upadhyay said. He also predicted that the Congress will win 46 seats.
8.35 am: Uttarakhand Congress President Kishore Upadhyay denied reports of any dissent within the party. “Uttarakhand people will not forget what BJP did last year in trying to bring down our government,” Upadhyay told India Today.
8.17 am: Uttarakhand BJP spokesperson Munna Singh says he is confident of a BJP win in the state.
8 am: Counting has begun.