The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was projected to win the Gujarat Assembly elections comfortably, exit polls predicted, but they signalled a tight finish in Himachal Pradesh. In the Delhi municipal elections, however, the saffron party seemed to be headed for a big defeat at the hands of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
According to the exit polls, the Congress tally reduced drastically in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, but it was fighting back in the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh Assembly. However, in what was once its bastion, Delhi, it was set to post a miserable result.
If the exit polls square with the actual outcome, it will be the BJP’s seventh consecutive term in Gujarat, and a possible break with tradition in Himachal Pradesh, which has always voted an opposition party to power. In Delhi, though, the BJP might need to overhaul its strategy as it seemed poised to be turned out of power from the municipal council for the first time in 15 years.
Should the Congress be able to form a government in Himachal Pradesh, as some polls predicted, this will be the first victory for the party under the leadership of a non-Gandhi chief, president Mallikarjun Kharge.
However, BJP leaders advised patience. “Many exit polls show the BJP forming a government while some show a neck-to-neck fight on a few seats. We should wait till December 8. According to our analysis, there’s a complete possibility of the BJP comfortably forming the government,” Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was quoted as saying by local newspapers.
The BJP’s greatest turnaround appears to be in Gujarat, where exit polls say it might not touch the coveted 140-plus-mark that was its target, but will come close to it, wresting back regions and recovering from its 2017 performance. The Congress, in contrast, has lost ground uniformly in all regions of the state, with the frittering away of hard earned gains of the Patidar reservation movement, farmers’ unrest, and tribal discontent that led to that party’s good performance in 2017.
In Himachal Pradesh, the advantage could lie with the rebels in case of a hung verdict as some exit polls predicted. The rebels, party leaders said, have appeared to have done greater damage to the BJP than the Congress. Rebels number anything between one and four as they figure in the list of ‘others’ and in a 68-member Assembly, could mark the difference between the winning and losing party. The actual result will decide if the ‘others’ will be kingmakers in the state – there is hardly any doubt that both parties will be reaching out to candidates in seats where rebels have stood as Independents.
However, the sit-up result was the municipal polls in Delhi, which has 250 seats. The AAP’s campaign of promising to end the culture of corruption, and asking people to embrace efficiency – along with freebies given out during their tenure in the Assembly – appears to have struck at the heart of the BJP’s campaign, exit polls suggested. If they are proved right, the BJP-AAP struggle for primacy in Delhi will acquire a new edge.