Hat trick for Lotus in two states

In a strong performance ahead of the next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday unseated the Congress in Rajasthan, retained power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and emerged as the single-largest party in Delhi.

The real winner in Delhi, however, was the nascent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which ended up as a strong number two, winning 28 of the 70 seats in the national capital’s Assembly to the BJP’s 31 seats. Though its ally Akali Dal won a seat, the BJP fell short of four seats required to have a simple majority of 36 seats in the 70-member Assembly.

But for the AAP’s challenge in the national capital, the BJP might have made a clean sweep of the four Assembly polls. The results, however, delivered a crushing blow to the Congress. The party lost very heavily in Rajasthan and virtually got decimated in the national capital, managing to win just eight seats. Three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit herself lost her New Delhi seat to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal by a huge margin of 25,864 votes.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress could not stop the ruling BJP from significantly improving its tally in the 230-member state Assembly – its tally dropped from 71 in the current Assembly to 58 in the current election. The BJP will have a two-thirds majority in the new Assembly. 

In Chhattisgarh, the party gave a tough fight to the ruling BJP, but it could not stop Chief Minister Raman Singh from registering a hat trick of victories. While the Congress strength in the new Assembly goes up from 38 in the outgoing Assembly to 39 seats, the BJP lost just one seat – its strength in the new Assembly will be 49 as against 50 seats in the outgoing Assembly.

In Rajasthan, where the Congress, under Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, suffered an unprecedented defeat, the rival BJP stormed back to power with a three-fourths majority. The party won 162 of the 199 seats where elections were held, 84 seats more than its strength in the outgoing Assembly. The Congress, whose tally fell by 74 seats, will have a poor presence in the new Assembly with just 21 members.

Though Gehlot won his Sardarpura seat in his home district of Jodhpur, his party suffered defeats in the remaining nine seats of the district at the hands of the BJP.
With the spectacular victory, BJP leader Vasundhara Raje is set to return as chief minister after a gap of five years during which she had to fight an internal challenge within the BJP. 

A disappointed Congress president Sonia Gandhi conceded the defeats and told reporters: “Obviously people are unhappy, otherwise they would not have given such results. We are very disappointed with the results and need to do deep introspection.” Her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi too acknowledged that “the people have given us a message which has reached not only our mind but also our heart”.

The Congress, however, was not willing to see the results as a trendsetter for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls next year. BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters that the party will form government in Delhi, despite the fact that it is still falling short of at least three seats to make it to the mark of 36.`

However, later in the evening, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan said he was preparing to sit in the opposition and see how he could work for people who helped the party emerge as the single largest party which fell short by four seats from reaching the half-way mark in the Assembly. “The BJP got the affection of people because of popularity of its chief ministerial candidates and our prime ministerial candidate (Modi),” Rajnath Singh said after a meeting of their parliamentary board.  In his reaction, Kejriwal said, the AAP will play the role of a constructive opposition and will not seek support from any party to form the govt.

Narendra Modi took a dig at the Congress in his tweet. “The total number of seats Congress has won in all the four states today cannot even match the seats @BJP4India won in one state!," Modi stated.

Delhi became the “youngest” of the four assemblies, with most of its MLAs belonging to an estimated average age of about 43 years. Madhya Pradesh followed with the average age of its MLAs standing at 47 whereas the average age of legislators stood at 48 in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

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