Assembly elections results 2018: Congress gets 2 BJP states, stakes claim for third; Telangana picks KCR
Election results 2018: The counting of votes in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram begins.Updated: Dec 12, 2018 00:28 IST
The Congress ends Tuesday with its strongest finish in state elections in recent times - winning Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, and staking claim to form government in Madhya Pradesh, where it is just ahead of the BJP in a cliffhanger. The party has made big gains in all three states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Congress in tweets, saying, “We accept the people’s mandate with humility.”
He also congratulated K Chandrashekhar Rao of the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti (TRS) for his sweep of Telangana and the Mizo National Front (MNF) for winning Mizoram.
A short while before that, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said it was “time for change,” crediting party workers for his party’s performance and promised “strong governments” in the states that his party set to win.
“This is a clear message to the prime minister and the BJP that the country is not happy with what they are doing... the BJP has a certain ideology and we will fight against it. We have won this elections, we will also win in 2019,” Gandhi said at a press conference on Tuesday evening, adding, “However, we do not want to get rid of anyone, hum kisi ko mukt nahi karna chahtein,” a dig at the BJP’s Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India) campaign.
Votes were counted on Tuesday in five states in what has been billed as the semi-final before next year’s Lok Sabha election. Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been ruled for the last 15 years by the BJP and Rajasthan for the last five. The party had also won 60 of the total 65 parliament seats in these heartland states as it swept the 2014 general elections, in which the Congress was reduced to its lowest tally ever in the Lok Sabha.
मोदी राज की उलटी गिनती शुरू हो गयी।— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) December 11, 2018
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In Madhya Pradesh, the closest contest in the day, the Congress had won or was leading in 113 seats, up 56 from last time, and the BJP was at 109, down by 56. The Congress’ Kamal Nath wrote to MP Governor Anandiben Patel late on Tuesday night staking claim to form government. He also sought to meet the Governor, whose office said, “An appointment will be given only after the situation is made clear by the Election Commission.”
In Rajasthan, the BJP’s Vasundhara Raje has conceded defeat. The Congress, having won 99 seats, was just short of the majority mark of 100. The party has an offer of support from the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has won a single seat. Voting was held in 199 of the state’s 200 seats as a candidate died in one constituency. The BJP has won 73 seats. In 2013, the Congress had won only 23 seats as the BJP snatched an absolute majority with 163 seats.
Chhattisgarh has been swept by the Congress, which has won or is leading in 68 of the state’s 90 seats, a two-thirds majority and a gain of 29 seats from last time. A party needs 46 seats in the 90-member assembly to form government in the state. The BJP is ahead in or has won only 15 seats.
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The big Congress gains in these heartland states will be a huge morale booster for the party led by Rahul Gandhi who is often taunted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for a series of debacles in state elections since the 2014 general elections. As it lost state after state, the only bright spot was Punjab, which the party wrested from the Akali Dal-BJP combine last year and the small state of Puducherry, which it retained, in 2016.
PM Modi and Amit Shah led the offensive against the Congress in attacking campaigns as the BJP sought a fourth straight term in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and to retain Rajasthan, which it took from the Congress in 2013.
In southern state Telangana, the country’s youngest, Rao, popularly called KCR, established his supremacy early in the day, never looking back. His TRS had won a whopping 87 seats, way more than the 60 it needs for a majority in the 119-member assembly.
The TRS, which spearheaded the Telangana statehood campaign that culminated in the creation of India’s youngest state out of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, took a gamble in September when it opted for early elections almost a year ahead and CM Rao dissolved the assembly.
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KCR faced a united challenge from the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Left that have formed a ‘mahakootami’ (grand alliance) to unseat the TRS. The BJP fought separately and is now leading only in one seat.
In Mizoram, the Mizo National Front (MNF) is all set to return to power after a gap of 10 years by defeating the Congress in its last bastion in the northeast with a lead of 26 seats. Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla of the Congress lost both the seats he contested.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, both of who yesterday attended a meeting of 21 opposition parties to discuss an anti-BJP front, cheered today’s election result. “The countdown to 2019 has begun. This result will be reflected at the national level,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, calling it a “disaster for” the BJP.
Kejriwal said “The countdown of the Modi government’s fall has begun,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
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