Riding on the anti-incumbency factor, the BJP on Friday stormed back to power on its own getting a simple majority in Himachal Pradesh and routing Congress in the assembly elections.
In an encore of the stunning victory in Gujarat, the saffron party is tasting power after four years, bagging 38 seats with just three results left to be declared in a House of 68. It is leading in three. The BJP had only 19 seats in the outgoing House.
PK Dhumal (63), who is poised to become the chief minister for the second time, led the saffron surge winning from Bamsan in Hamirpur district by beating Congress candidate Col (retd) BC Lagwal by 26,000 votes.
The Congress, which went to the polls under the leadership of grand old man of Himachal politics and five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh, suffered a setback as it could win only 23 seats and was leading in one. The party had 41 seats in the existing assembly.
Singh, whose government faced corruption charges, however survived the saffron sweep retaining his Rohru seat in Shimla district and winning by a margin of 14,000 votes. BSP won one, and others and Independents got three.
As BJP cadres broke into celebrations after the party was on the road to a spectacular victory, Dhumal said the party won owing to its campaign against price rise, unemployment, rampant corruption and the Congress's failure to get special development package from the UPA government at the Centre.
Senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes won from Kumarsen after she initially trailed. Former Union minister Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma won from Mandi (Sadar). GS Pali, who was shown in a TV sting in the company of bar girls during his birthday party, won the Nagrauta seat in Kangra district. Pali had to resign as minister after the episode. Former Congress leader and current BSP president Vijay Singh Mankotia was among the losers.