[Live Blog] Poll Verdict: Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh

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6:58 PM – That speech was an extraordinary exercise in positioning oneself on the national stage. It was clearly meant for a national audience, hit the right spots (good governance, praising the people, attacking his critics for damaging Gujarati asmita, completely ignoring 2002) and was almost inspirational in its hyperbole. It has been a great day if your name is Narendra Modi.
The final Gujarat tally came in during the 45 minute address. Heerabhai Patel (Congress) came back to win Lunawada by 2,201 votes, which means the BJP ends on 115 seats, with 61 going to the Congress. Bhattiyat remains undecided in Himachal Pradesh, as the BJP candidate leads by 111 votes. The Congress has won 36 seats so far, while the BJP has 25. It’s been a pleasure bringing the day’s returns to you. It’s also been exhausting. Thanks for reading.
6:33 PM – He asks journalists who came to cover the rough and tumble of the elections to take the other, less dramatic qualities of the state and tell the world about them. He says that the news of his unique hologram speech wasn’t spread around the world because they didn’t want to praise Modi. “I don’t want to stop, I don’t want to tire, I just want to  fulfil the dreams of the Gujarati people,” he says.
6:27 PM – Modi says he wants to serve the people of India by building a better Gujarat, that will support other parts of the country. This is really beginning to sound like a campaign speech for national office.
6:25 PM – “I don’t work for certificates and medals from the global community. I’ve won so many; I don’t have any space left. I work for the betterment of my people.” He says he will visit Delhi on the 27th, and a “PM!” chant breaks out.
6:20 PM – “This election is a landmark one because we worked honestly on a development platform and won. The people who wanted to stop us from winning resorted to lies and more lies. I salute the voters for not listening to these lies, even when finding the truth was harder than finding a needle in a haystack. I am happy that I did not resort to these tactics. I wrote a poem once where I said that I take the stones people throw at me and make it into a staircase. And this staircase has taken me to a hat-trick.”
6:14 PM – He trains his guns on the political pundits who have been struggling to come to terms with the Gujarat verdict. He asks his people to pray for them, so they get a good night’s sleep tonight. Ouch. “Why are these people so desperate to belittle Gujarat?” he asks.
6:13 PM – “12 crore eyes watch me as I work for them. This victory is not mine, it belongs to the 6 crore people of Gujarat, and to every person who desires good governance in this country. The sweat of the lakhs of my party workers beat any amount of money. I bow my head to these workers, who toiled under heavy pressure. What I am is because of my party. It is because of the work of party workers over the last 60 years that the BJP’s flag flies in victory over Gujarat today … I want to do great work for this state. There was a time when governments used to do one or two good deeds in their tenure of five years. I am someone who needs to do something new every day.”
6:07 PM – “God knows what has been written about me over the last few years. But when the postal ballots were opened, the naysayers were shocked to see the BJP  getting 70 to 75 percent of the vote … I understand that government servants today probably leave at 10 PM when they left at 5 earlier, but that is because they are serving the people of Gujarat … I am happy that I have kept the values instilled in me as a child. I apologise if I made any mistakes … After every election I won, people expected that I would take it easy. They were proved wrong every time. I promise that I will dedicate the next five years to work for the people with all my capacity.” He asks the people for their blessings so that he doesn’t make any mistakes.
5:59 PM – “If a government provides good governance, the voters will reward it despite everything else. That is what this election has shown. Political parties should realise that instead of making hollow promises, they should understand the hopes and aspirations of the people and work to fulfil them. We have made many difficult decisions, probably angered many people. But I did what I felt was best for the people of this state. And the people have rewarded me by embracing our party.”
5:55 PM – “The people used to think that governments came and went every five years. But they have now made government accountable by giving it stability. This shows that the electorate has matured. They refused to listen to the opposition’s lies, refused to take the bribes offered in the guise of election manifestos. This is why political pundits across the country are talking about Gujarat today. The 6 crore people of Gujarat are the true heroes today.”
5:52 PM – Modi asks his supporters to extend their love and respect to the defeated opposition. “The election results have shown that this country’s voters understand what is good for them,” he says. “They have shown how mature the voter has become. Political pundits will have understood that Gujarat has experienced the communal tension of the 1980s, and do not want to return to those conditions. Gujarat’s voters have risen about parochialism and communalism to think about the future.” No mention of 2002.
5:46 PM – Modi’s speaking in Hindi. So much for our translator. She’s being returned to her cupboard.
5:43 PM – And Modi’s on stage now. Our one Gujarati-speaking colleague is on hand to translate. The MC announces that Modi is here in person and not through a 3D hologram. Glad they cleared that up.
5:00 PM – In Himachal, three seats are still counting. That includes Bhattiyat, where Bikram Singh Jaryal of the BJP leads Kuldeep Singh Pathania by 226 votes. If Jaryal hangs on and the other two seats stay as they are, the Congress would win 36 seats to the BJP’s 26.
4:51 PM – Eleven seats in Gujarat are yet to declare their results. Of these, six are substantial Congress leads, while four will probably go to the BJP, which would leave the count at 115-60. The eleventh seat – Lunawada – is the interesting one, as Kalubhai Hirabhai Malivad of the BJP leads Heerabhai Haribhai Patel of the Congress by 59 votes. That is out of more than 1.4 lakh votes cast. This one’s probably not going to be decided anytime soon.
4:29 PM – The wait is on now for Narendra Modi’s address to his supporters. The Election Commission website suggests Chidambaram might be able to claim victory at the end of the day, as the BJP’s projected tally remains static at 116. That would be a loss of one seat from 2007, and a gain of one seat for the Congress, which is projected to win 60.
4:06 PM – Modi and his former political mentor Keshubhai Patel feed each other sweets in a show of camraderie.
4:00 PM – It’s official: the BJP has now won more than 93 seats, securing an absolute majority. Narendra Modi will be sworn in for his third term on 25 December. He’s met his mother, and is now off to build bridges.

 
3:51 PM – Here’s Amin’s full quote: “The Congress leadership – Rahul Gandhi, Mohan Prakash, CP Joshi – is responsible for this loss. The state leaders were busy in getting tickets for their aides, leaving the party in an orphan state. Even the Congress senior national leaders were unhappy with the way the tickets were distributed in the state. This was also reflected in the fact that even the topmost state leaders lost in their constituencies.” Amin was a former deputy CM of the state and a senior Congress leader, who quit the party to join the BJP after being denied a ticket.
3:34 PM – Tehelka Special Correspondent Brijesh Pandey has met with Congress rebel Narhari Amin. He tweets:

 
3:20 PM – So here are the results as they stand. In Gujarat, the BJP has won 77 seats and is leading in 39, bringing their total to 116, one less than 2007. The Congress has 42 wins and 18 leads for 60. The GPP has managed only two. In Himachal, four seats remain to be called. The Congress has secured an absolute majority with 36 seats, while the BJP has won 24 and is leading in two more.
3:03 PM – Twitter’s been abuzz all day, as expected from the occasion. Much of the talk has been about Modi, but Chidambaram’s reaction has attracted its fair share of flak.

 

Narendra Modi, meanwhile, is off to meet his mother before he addresses his supporters.
2:53 PM – Former Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa has reacted to the Gujarat verdict. “The victory of Modi in Gujarat is not the victory of BJP,” he says. “It’s the victory of brand Modi. We can make out the impact of BJP through the result of Himachal Pradesh. The party should be called Modi’s regional party: the victory is Modi’s personal victory.”
2:16 PM – Jagruti Pandya, widow of slain former home minister Haren Pandya, has lost heavily in the Ellisbridge constituency, winning only 9,075 votes. The GPP candidate, who claimed that Modi had IB officers following her, finished behind Rakesh Shah (BJP), who won 1,06,631 votes, and Kamleshkumar Shah (Congress) who came second with 29,959. Meanwhile, Arjun Modhwadia has resigned as GPCC chief.
1:58 PM – Manish Tewari has a unique glass half-full approach. “All the constituencies where Rahul Gandhi campaigned,” he says, “the Congress has won.” Wow.
1:42 PM – Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has tweeted his reaction to Modi’s victory:

1:37 PM – It is important to note that the numbers being flashed on TV include both actual results and leads. In Gujarat, the Election Commission has so far officially declared 31 seats, with 23 to the BJP and eight to the Congress. Narendra Modi, fittingly, was the first to be declared a victor, winning Maninagar by 86,373 votes. Shweta Bhatt (Congress), however, managed to keep her deposit, winning 21 percent of the vote.
1:23 PM – One interesting facet of the election has been defeats for second rung leaders of the Gujarat BJP. Four ministers are projected to be losing: Dilip Sanghani, Fakir Vaghela, Praful Patel and Jaynarayan Vyas. Vyas is trailing by 4,000 votes in Sanand, the site of the Tata Nano plant.
1:06 PM – Kapil Sibal puts in his entry for the quote of the day contest. “The campaign in Gujarat was 3D,” he says, “but the result was 2D.”
1:01 PM – Outgoing Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal is addressing the media, congratulating the Congress for its victory and promising to introspect on the faults within the BJP. Narendra Modi will address the media at 5 PM.
12:54 PM – BJP senior leader Shanta Kumar has conceded defeat in Himachal Pradesh, saying: “We accept the verdict. All people in the BJP had fought elections together. The people did not vote for us. We accept it.” The Congress is now leading in 38 seats, to the BJP’s 24.
12:50 PM – Another major Congress setback is Arjun Modhwadia, who is losing his Porbandar seat to Babubhai Bokhiria (BJP) by almost 17,500 votes.
12:46 PM – The Congress has made gains in Saurashtra, increasing their tally to 18 from 14 last year. The BJP has lost five seats to fall to 36 seats in the region.
12:43 PM – Even as the tallies seem almost identical to 2007, the elections have by no means been an incumbent’s dream. As many as 81 seats have changed hands so far.
12:36 PM – “It is a victory for the Congress in both states,” claims Chidambaram. “The Congress has improved its tally in both the states. 2014 is 16 months away. The vote percentage has increased. The BJP had two states; in Himachal, the Congress has won. In Gujarat, the real winner is the Congress’ development plank. The BJP was claiming 140 seats but has been contained below 114.”
12:29 PM – Finance minister P Chidambaram had the quote of the day earlier, claiming that the Congress secured a moral victory by restricting the BJP to less than the 117 seats it won in 2007. Even that claim is now suspect, as the BJP is currently leading in 120 seats.
12:15 PM – Gujarat home minister Praful Patel is trailing Rajubhai Chavda (Congress) in Himatnagar by over 11,800 votes.
12:10 PM – Prem Kumar Dhumal is being projected to have won the Hamirpur constituency, beating the BJP’s Narinder Thakur by 9,302 votes. The Congress is leading the BJP by 10 seats in the state, 36-26.
12:01 PM – The GPP’s general secretary Gordhan Zadafia, home minister of the state during the 2002 riots, is also trailing in the Gondal constituency, trailing Jayrajsinh Jadeja (BJP) by almost 20,000 votes. Party president Keshubhai Patel, however, is leading his Viravadar constituency by over 23,500 votes. Both seats are dominated by Leuva Patels, a group that was expected to catapult the new party to great heights.
11:56 AM – Shaktisinh Gohil’s woes continue, as he is projected to lose his Bhavnagar Rural seat by over 20,000 votes to Parshottam Solanki. This is probably the biggest individual upset of the election.
11:42 AM – The networks have been calling Maninagar for Modi sporadically over the last two hours, but the Election Commission website still says counting is in progress. Shweta Bhatt is in danger of losing her deposit, trailing Modi by over 80,000 votes.
11:37 AM – As pundits all over the TV begin the inevitable discussion on Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions, the Congress is romping home to a majority in Himachal, leading in 38 seats to the BJP’s 24.
11:34 AM – The exit polls seem to have overstated Modi’s performance somewhat, as the BJP seems headed for a repeat of the 2007 verdict, with 115-117 seats. That is no mean feat; it is almost a two thirds majority in the state.
11:24 AM – Controversial BJP leader Amit Shah, main accused in the Sohrabuddin false encounter case, is leading in his Naranpura constituency by almost 50,000 votes.
11:21 AM – The breakup of the Gujarat results is instructive. In rural seats, the BJP and Congress are tied at 48 seats each, while in urban seats, the BJP has 46 seats to the Congress’ 7. In Muslim-majority seats, Modi’s party leads in eight seats, while the Congress has only four.
11:05 AM – In the first of our podcasts on the elections, Tehelka Special Correspondent Ashhar Khan says that the Himachal result is symptomatic of the cyclical nature of the state, which has a history of anti-incumbency, but the real headache for the party will come after the results, when it has to choose a new chief minister.

10:57 AM – Tehelka’s Aymen Mohammed has been talking to Gujarat Congress spokesperson Hriday Buch. “The people have voted for Modi and not the Indian National Congress,” he says. “However, the benefits of (Modi’s) development programme have not reached the rural areas and the people in these areas, especially in the Saurashtra region, have reposed their faith in the Congress.”
10:42 AM – Virbhadra Singh refuses to comment on whether he will be the chief minister of Himachal if the Congress comes back to power in the state.
10:39 AM – In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress is saving face, leading in 33 seats as opposed to the BJP’s 24. CM Dhumal’s son, Anurag Thakur says it is too early to say if infighting led to the party’s downfall.
10:31 AM – Gujarat Congress spokesperson Chetan Raval is refusing to concede the election, saying they will wait for the people’s verdict to come in. To be fair, not one seat has reported a result. A Congress comeback is still possible, but very, very unlikely. Meanwhile, the BJP is leading in 115 seats to the Congress’ 59, which is very similar to 2007.
10:24 AM – Keshubhai Patel, who is contesting from Visavadar, is leading Kanubhai Bhalala of the BJP by 2,500 votes. His party, however, hasn’t managed to live up to expectations, leading only in four seats.
10:15 AM – In Himachal Pradesh, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal is leading in his Hamirpur constituency by 1,430 votes (with only about 11,000 votes counted).
10:09 AM – As for Narendrabhai himself, he is leading Shweta Bhatt by over 30,000 votes in his Maninagar constituency. Bhatt is the wife of IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has alleged Modi was instrumental in planning and executing the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms.
10:05 AM – The Election Commission website is showing 104 leads for the BJP in Gujarat, with 59 for the Congress. In Himachal, it’s 28-20 in favour of the Congress.
10:03 AM – The leader of the Opposition in Gujarat, Shaktisinh Gohil, is trailing in his constituency of Bhavnagar (Rural) to the BJP’s Purshottam Solanki by over 10,000 votes.  In this interview, he had predicted victory, as Solanki was, in his opinion, a “lousy candidate”.
9:47 AM – The Congress has gone ahead in Himachal Pradesh, with 30 leads to the BJP’s 22. Also, vote shares are in from Gujarat, with the BJP getting more than 49 percent of the vote to the Congress’ 41.
9:44 AM – A couple of interesting trends coming in. The BJP is doing very well in seats with a sizeable minority population, leading in nine of the 12 that have reported so far. On the other hand, it’s tied 8-8 in the cluster around Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar.
9:23 AM – Abhishek Manu Singhvi is on Times Now, curiously in black and white. He says that it’s too early to comment, that nothing can be said before 10:30 AM. And there you go, Himachal Pradesh is now tied 19-19 for both national parties.
9:19 AM – The BJP seems to be running away with Himachal Pradesh, with 20 leads to the Congress’ 14 so far. But the exit polls suggest a close race, with the Congress edging out the BJP. C-Voter gives 30 to 38 seats to the Congress, with 27 to 35 for the BJP. Chanakya gives it 40-23 to the Congress, while CNN-IBN gives 29 to 35 to both the Congress and the BJP.
9:14 AM – The Times of India’s Ahmedabad edition has this nugget. Pure gold.
9:07 AM – Leads in from 105 seats in Gujarat. The BJP leads in 66, while the Congress has 34 leads. In Himachal, it’s 11 for the BJP and 5 for the Congress.
8:52 AM – You wouldn’t know it from watching TV right now, but there is also an election being counted in Himachal Pradesh. Seven leads are in, with the BJP leading in six and the Congress in one.
8:49 AM – Leads are in from 25 seats in Gujarat, with the BJP leading in 17, while the Congress has 8 leads.
8:47 AM – Speaking of factionalism, Tehelka’s Brijesh Pandey, who is in Ahmedabad, has talked about the disunity in the opposition Congress in this article.
8:43 AM – Everybody and their uncle has had an opinion on which way the count is going to go. But what do the exit polls say? It’s good news for Modi, as most polls predict him increasing his 117-seat haul from 2007. CNN-IBN has the BJP getting 129 to 141 seats, while CVoter gives him 119 to 124, and ABP Nielsen says his tally will fall slightly to 116. His victory is all but assured, despite factionalism and anti-incumbency.
8:28 AM – It’s 20 December, which means the world could come to an end tomorrow. Modi-baiters would suggest that the Gujarat CM coming back into power could have something to do with that. The count has begun, and the networks are promising three hours of commercial-free awesomeness. No figures are in as yet.
8:07 AM – D-day for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly election results. The counting of votes in Gujarat and HP will begin shortly. Tehelka Special Correspondent Brijesh Pandey is in Ahmedabad, tracking the latest updates…