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BJP set to break own record in Gujarat, Congress on comeback trail in HP

The BJP was set to retain power in Gujarat for a record seventh term while Congress was likely to dislodge the saffron party in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes in the Assembly elections was underway on Thursday.

Nikhil Vyas | New Delhi |

The BJP was set to retain power in Gujarat for a record seventh term while Congress was likely to dislodge the saffron party in Himachal Pradesh as counting of votes in the Assembly elections was underway on Thursday.

In the polls for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, the BJP emerged victorious on 32 seats so far and was leading on 124 seats. The saffron party was all set to break its own record of winning the state Assembly polls.

Meanwhile, in the Himachal Pradesh polls held for 68 Assembly seats, the Congress surged ahead of the ruling BJP by leading on 30 seats while the ruling party was leading on 17 and winning nine seats till 2: 25 pm.

Most exit polls had predicted a close contest between the incumbent BJP and the Opposition Congress in the hill state.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, 57, won from his stronghold Seraj in the Mandi district. Congress’ prominent leaders – Mukesh Agnihotri, 60, and Sukhvinder Sukhu, 58, were leading from Haroli and Nadaun seats respectively.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was in the fray for the first time in the Assembly polls, was missing from the state well ahead of the polling with its leaders focusing on strengthening its vote bank in Gujarat.

While the party fielded candidates from 67 of the 68 Assembly seats, it is yet to open its account.

The counting of votes for the BJP-ruled Himachal Pradesh Assembly began on Thursday morning amidst tight security arrangements.

The high-stake election was held on November 12, sealing the electoral fate of 412 candidates, including 24 women. A 75.60 per cent voter turnout was recorded, breaking the 2017 record of 75.57 per cent.

The counting of votes began at 8 am at 68 centres in 59 locations.

Meanwhile, victory in Gujarat will make the BJP the only party other than the CPI (M) to have won seven straight Assembly polls. The CPI (M), which ruled West Bengal for 34 years from 1977 to 2011, had also won seven straight elections.

The BJP, if manages to win 153 seats in the state, will not only break its own record of winning the highest number of 127 seats in the 2002 Assembly elections but also break the record of getting the the highest number of seats in the Gujarat Assembly elections in 1985 by the Congress’ Madhav Singh Solanki government which had won 149 seats.

Celebrations broke out in Gandhinagar as the BJP neared a record-breaking victory in Gujarat Assembly polls.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and state BJP chief CR Paatil exchanged sweets while celebrating the party’s victory. The party workers played musical instruments and danced to celebrate the nearing victory.

In Gujarat Assembly polls, the BJP was leading on 124 seats and it has won 32 seats so far according to the latest data by the Election Commission till 2: 25 pm. Congress has won two seats and it was leading on 15 seats.

The counting of votes for the Gujarat Assembly elections began on Thursday at 8 am at 37 centres in 33 districts.

The Assembly elections in the state were held in two phases on December 1 and 5, respectively.

An approximate voter turnout of 59.11 per cent was recorded in Gujarat by the end of the second phase of the Gujarat elections. During the first phase of polling on December 1, the state saw an overall turnout of 63.14 per cent.

Exit polls had indicated a clear win for the incumbent BJP in Gujarat.