The BJP on Thursday hailed the verdict in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly polls as a victory of its development agenda, while the opposition parties termed the outcome as a "moral defeat" for the saffron party, claiming that "jingoism does not work when people are living in misery".
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders gave messages of victory and thanked people of both the states, where the party is set to form the government albeit with a reduced majority, opposition party leaders criticised these claims of victory, saying there is a significant drop in BJP's vote percentage merely four months after its Lok Sabha election win.
In Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition was on course to retain power while BJP-ruled Haryana appeared headed for a hung assembly with JJP chief Dushyant Chautala emerging as a kingmaker.
In his first reaction after the poll verdict, Modi tweeted, "I thank the people of Haryana for blessing us. We will continue to work with the same zeal and dedication for the state’s progress."
In another tweet, the Prime Minister said, "People of Maharashtra have blessed the NDA with immense affection. We are humbled to have got the people’s support yet again. Our work towards Maharashtra’s progress continues!"
Later addressing party workers at the BJP headquarters here, Modi said the people of these two states have reposed their trust in chief ministers, and asserted that they will work even harder in the next five years to serve them.
He described the the party's performance in Haryana, where it failed to win a majority, as "unprecedented" and noted that its vote share had gone up to 36 per cent in these assembly polls from 33 per cent in 2014.
When governments often lose power after five years, it is remarkable that BJP dispensations in Maharashtra and Haryana have been given a fresh mandate for five years, he said.
Asserting that the poll verdict a "moral defeat" of the BJP and what it stands for, Congress' senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said BJP chief Amit Shah's claim of victory in Haryana does not hold as the party is short of a majority and there is a significant drop in its vote percentage merely four months after the Lok Sabha election victory.
Claiming that the verdict of Haryana is against the BJP, he said all parties opposing the BJP must come together as has been appealed by former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
"We accept the verdict of the people with humility. This verdict is a moral defeat for the BJP and what they stand for," he told reporters at a press conference.
In Haryana, the Congress, which failed to bag even one seat in the Lok Sabha polls, won or was ahead in 31 of the 90 seats at stake compared to its previous tally of 15. The BJP, which had 47 seats in the outgoing 90-member house, won or was ahead in 40 seats. The half-way mark is 46.
The verdict came as a surprise as most of the exit polls predicted a significantly higher tally for the BJP in the two states.
Reacting to the Assembly election results, Left parties said jingoism does not work when people are living in misery.
"The results, not just in these two states but also in bypolls in Gujarat, Bihar and Kerala show that communal jingoism does not work at a time when the people are in misery over lack of jobs and economic slowdown," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
CPI general secretary D Raja said that the election results in the two states was a clear indication that this was the beginning of the "fall of the BJP".
BJP president Amit Shah indicated that his party will stake claim to form the next government in Haryana after the assembly election results threw up a hung verdict.
"The (Manohar Lal) Khattar government in Haryana has made every effort for people's welfare under the central leadership of (Narendra) Modi. I thank people for making the BJP the single-largest party and giving it another opportunity to serve them," Shah said in a tweet.
He congratulated Chief Minister Khattar and state party chief Subhash Barala.
Shah also thanked voters in Maharashtra for "reposing their faith" in BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in the state.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, who is in ED custody in a corruption case, said in a tweet that party workers must believe that the BJP can be defeated in elections as calm and quiet patriotism can defeat muscular nationalism.
Miracles can happen if people shed their fear, he further tweeted. He said he has asked his family to tweet on his behalf.