BJP on Thursday conceded defeat in Himachal Pradesh with senior leader Shanta Kumar saying that the party accepted the poll verdict. The Congress, which put up a spirited campaign under former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is all set to return to power in Himachal Pradesh.
"We accept the verdict. All people in the BJP had fought elections together. The people did not vote for us. We accept it," Shanta Kumar, a former Himachal Pradesh chief minister told reporters in New Delhi.
Earlier in the day, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal appeared prepared to accept the worst.
"Whatever people decide is good. It would be good if they support us, and good even if they don't. I will welcome the decision of people," he said as trends showed a decline in the party's fortunes.
The Congress on Thursday is set to return to power in Himachal Pradesh, with its candidates winning three seats and leading in more than 35 of the 68 seats.
Congress veteran and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh, leading by a huge margin from Shimla (Rural), was confident his party would form the government.
"We are forming the next government," he told the media in Shimla.
The Congress has won from Bilaspur, Gagret and Baijnath while the BJP won from Nahan, Manali and Hamirpur.
Among the political veterans who were earlier trailing but later forged ahead were seven-time legislator Vidya Stokes (Congress), former Congress state chief Kaul Singh and BJP state leader Satpal Satti, officials said.
The independents who are leading are Balbir Singh Verma (Chopal) as well as BJP rebels Sudha Sushant, wife of BJP MP from Kangra Rajan Sushant (Fatehpur), Rakesh Pathania (Nurpur) and Darshan Saini (Doon).
Election Commission officials said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had also won from three seats and forged ahead in 20 constituencies.
Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal won from Hamirpur, defeating Narinder Thakur of the Congress by over 9,000 votes.
In 2007, the BJP won 41 seats, the Congress 23, the Bahujan Samaj Party one and independents three. The BSP legislator later joined the BJP.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)