The BJP is set to retain Uttar Pradesh for a second term after the pulled ahead in the counting of votes, as early exit polls seemed to suggest.
Samajwadi Party (SP) Chief Akhilesh Yadav took on the BJP on a gamut of issues, but was unable to quell the pro-incumbency wave.
Caste-based politics still holds sway in the Hindi heartland, with the Jat community and those representing the backward castes being the traditional SP allies, while the Congress and Mayawati’s BSP were among the challengers to the incumbent BJP government under Yogi Adityanath.
The challenge seems to be all but outright thwarted, as BJP registers a resounding victory in UP. The saffron party is leading in over 260 seats in UP now, an overwhelming majority.
The UP election result 2022 is generally considered the precursor to the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, where several opposition leaders are trying to form a national front in the opposition.
With the BJP headed for a win in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath could make history as the first Chief Minister to return to power. It will also be the first time a party has come back to power in UP since 1985.
Around the Gorakhpur Mutt, of which he was the head priest, and five-time MP, Adityanath was picked as CM by the BJP central leadership five years ago, seemingly out of nowhere.
That seemed to have been a visionary move as Adityanath becomes one of the BJP’s central campaigners on the national stage.
With this victory, the BJP agenda of decimating the Congress and stamping its ideological imprint on national politics seems a mere formality, in the run-up to the 2024 polls.
After he thanked the supporters for AAP’s victory, CM-in-waiting Bhagwant Mann said that he will put Punjab back on the development track, citing the ironic sight of youth supporters on motorcycles, who came out in droves on weekdays to offer their support, who he believed were in need of employment support.
‘There are so many youths from India in Ukraine. They have to spend so much money to get a degree. We shall put our house in order. Have faith in me. You will start seeing the difference within one month.’
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is also the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party, says, ‘Pehle Dilli mein inquilab hua, phir Punjab mein inquilab hua, iske baad pure desh mein inquilab hoga. (Delhi witnessed the revolution first, then Punjab, and after this the whole country will witness it). As the AAP is set wrest power from the Congress in Punjab, Kejriwal adds, “Everybody gathered against AAP, and then said Kejriwal is a terrorist. The people of the country have said that Kejirwal is not a terrorist, he is the real deshbhakt.”
As AAP leads in 92 out of 117 seats in Punjab, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says the victory in Punjab made it clear that the Kejriwal’s ‘Delhi model of governance’ has gone national.
‘The people of Punjab haven’t voted for AAP, they have given AAP a chance,’ he signed off.
Mann added ‘You must have seen how the Opposition parties have attacked and targeted Arvind Kejriwal and me using personal comments and derogatory remarks. Today, I want to tell them that the kind of language you used, you are welcome to do it again. You made personal comments about us and our families, but clearly, the people of Punjab didn’t like it at all. Today, we forgive them, but from now, they will have to respect the 3 crore Punjabis.’
While most pollsters believed it to be an easy ride for the BJP in UP, the other states were a toss-up. Now, it looks like a 4-1 scorecard for the ruling party, while the AAP makes its presence felt nationally with a thumping victory in Punjab.
The counting of votes for the 690 seats across five states commenced at 8 am. As the results to the five-state Assembly polls started rolling in, all eyes were fixed on the dead-heats in Uttarakhand and Goa, where both the BJP and the Congress were locked in a fierce battle, according to the initial exit polls.
Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur
Poll watchers expected a close contest between the BJP and Congress in Uttarakhand, but the BJP is setting new trends in the Himalayan state as well, clearing the majority mark in the 70-seat battle, for a current tally of 48.
In Goa, the BJP has won 20 seats in the 40-seat assembly and is claiming outside support by three independents.
In Manipur, the BJP is leading in 27 out of the 55 seats out of the 60 that are showing trends.with Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh defeating his nearest Congress rival Pangeijam Saratchandra Singh in Heingang. The incumbent CM won by a margin of over 17000 votes.
The Congress has accepted defeat with party chief Rahul Gandhi ‘accepting the people’s mandate,’ as the grand old party sees itself nothing short of decimated in the national fray.
The elections to the five states — Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — had kicked off on February 10, with Punjab and Manipur going to the polls at a later date.
While the seven-phase UP polls ended on March 7, the Manipur elections were held in two phases — on February 28 and March 5. Punjab went to the polls on February 20, whereas the election in Uttarakhand and Goa were conducted on February 14.
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