New Delhi: The die is cast. The contest is over. What now remains to be seen is whether BJP can make a comeback in Himachal Pradesh and secure Gujarat once again – the exit polls say it can.
While there is a difference in the margin with which various exit polls suggest BJP will win, the larger trend undoubtedly points towards a victory for the party in Gujarat. The halfway mark in the 182-seat Gujarat Assembly is 92.
In Himachal Pradesh, on the other hand, BJP is enjoying a landslide victory, if exit polls are to be believed. The halfway mark in the 68 seat assembly is 35.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor came to form an alliance that articulated the resentment against the BJP, which has ruled Gujarat for the last 22 years. This is said to have bolstered the campaign of Rahul Gandhi, but will the end result be any different, we will soon find out.
Very few experts may have foreseen that the most powerful political figure in this country — Narendra Modi by the end of his campaign would traverse 28,000 km in his own state, the last leg of it on a seaplane, rallying votes for his party that has been in power for over two decades.
Both parties relied heavily on their star faces — Gandhi and Modi.
Both Modi and Gandhi traveled extensively and often crisscrossed each other’s paths. Modi’s initial poll pitch was ‘Vikas versus Dynasty’, Gandhi ended his campaign with a pitch for ‘development versus crony capitalism’. Modi asked Congress whether they wanted ‘Mandir or Masjid’, Gandhi responded with his ‘temple run’ and ‘Shiv Bhakti’.
A lot of heat was generated when EC issued a show-cause notice to now Congress President Rahul Gandhi after TV channels in poll-bound Gujarat aired his interview in alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC).
Congress leaders on Sunday hailed Gandhi’s Gujarat campaign as a “winner”, saying his issue-based strategy would bring positive results for the party tomorrow (Monday) when counting will take place.
“We are confident of victory in Gujarat. The manner in which Rahul Gandhi spearheaded the campaign and used issue-based politics, he put the BJP on the mat forcing them to resort to non-issues for public sympathy,” Congress general secretary in charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot told PTI.
Interestingly, Narendra Modi after casting his vote in Ahmedabad’s Rapin exited the booth but instead of going straight to his car the Prime Minister chose to walk on the road. He walked for a few kilometers as he turned this into a mini-roadshow, waving to cheering supporters. The Congress took exception to this and hit out at EC and called it a ‘puppet of the BJP’.
The atmosphere was also vitiated by a stray comment from Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a ‘neech aadmi’.
“Mujhko lagta hai, ki ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, isme koi sabhyata nahi hai, or aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai? (This man is a low-life person, he isn’t cultured… at this moment why does he need to practice such dirty politics?)” he told reporters.
Modi used the insult to hit back at the Congress and said the comments reflect the “Mughal mindset” of the party and the people of Gujarat would give them a befitting lesson through the ballot box.
Addressing a poll rally in Surat, Modi said he was proud of his humble background and had done nothing “neech” so far. He said the Congress has aimed all kinds of insults at him, but he would not stoop to their level.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court declined a plea by the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee seeking direction to the EC to count votes through paper trail attached to the EVMs in 20 per cent of the polling booths in Gujarat.
Striking a contrarian note, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade has claimed that the party would not win enough seats to form the next government in the state. He is not alone in his assertion, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray had this to say: “The exit polls have predicted a clear victory for the BJP (in Gujarat). However, the exit poll predictions are not agreeable to us. The final result will be out on Monday and everyone has to accept it.”
To add to the mix, there was also a sex CD featuring Patidar leader Hardik Patel circulated in November.
With all done, what everyone is waiting for is the crackling denouement.