BJP returns in Uttarakhand, gets three-fourth majority

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Dehradun: The BJP on Saturday stormed back to power in Uttarakhand with a three-fourth majority by winning 57 seats in the 70-member assembly.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “tsunami” swept away Chief Minister Harish Rawat who lost from both the seats he contested: Haridwar Rural and Kichcha.

Rawat lost to Yatiswaranand of the BJP by 12,278 votes in Haridwar Rural and to Rajesh Shukla in Kichha by a slender 2,154 votes.

The ruling Congress managed to win only 11 seats, after which Rawat resigned.

Rawat, after Congress’s rout, hinted at possible tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to tweak the poll outcome.

“I want to thank ‘Modi Kranti’ (revolution) and EVM ‘chamatkar’ (miracle),” he said.

When reporters asked if he was hinting at tampering of EVMs, he said he did not say anything like this. “You know everything. I am not confusing you. I leave it to you to understand.”

He added that the Election Commission must explain why the poll process was stretched over such a long duration.

As the election results began to pour in after the vote count began at 8 a.m., BJP activists and supporters celebrated at the party headquarters at Dehradun and all across the state.

Despondent Congress leaders admitted that they had not anticipated such a huge defeat although they were not confident of a victory either.

Prominent BJP winners included Ritu Khanduri, Kedar Singh, Satpal Maharaj, Bharat Singh, Madan Kaushik, Dhan Singh Rawat and Saurabh Bahuguna, son of former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna.

After the poll results, BJP President Amit Shah announced that a Chief Minister will be decided after a meeting of the Parliamentary Board on Sunday which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Meanwhile, three major leaders including former state BJP chief Trivendra Singh Rawat and party National Executive member Satpal Maharaj emerged as strong contenders for the Chief Minister’s post.

Late evening, party’s Pithoragarh MLA Prakash Pant, the first Speaker of Uttarakhand assembly, emerged as another contender for the post.

Pant’s name emerged after party’s another Brahmin face and State BJP Chief Ajay Bhatt, who was a contender, lost election from Ranikhet assembly seat.

The BJP won 57 seats, highest ever won by any party in the state so far. The party garnered a considerable 46.5 per cent of votes.

In contrast, the Congress’ tally of 11 seats is the lowest-ever returned by the grand old party in Uttarakhand.

The Congress, though in terms of percentage, got a respectable 33.5 per cent of votes against its last time percentage of 33.79 per cent. But the percentage of votes did not translate into seats for the Congress.

Till this election, Uttarakhand has hardly ever given a comfortable majority to any party and both the BJP and the Congress have had to depend on regional parties and independent MLAs for forming the governments, which were not very stable.

In the 2012 assembly elections, the BJP and the Congress had seen a close contest and won 31 and 32 seats, respectively — both short of the simple majority mark of 36.

In terms of percentage, the Congress had got 33.79 per cent of votes while the BJP got 33.13 per cent.

After tight haggling, the Congress ultimately formed the government with the help of the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), which had got three seats, Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (one seat) and three Independents.

While the Congress’ infighting can be blamed to some extent for the party’s poor showing, the Modi wave seemed to have swept the hilly state like never before.

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