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Gujarat elections: Results today, BJP, Congress confident of victory ahead of counting of votes

With only a few hours left for counting of votes to start, leaders of both BJP and Congress were huddled in meetings to brainstorm possible outcomes for the Gujarat election results

india Updated: Dec 18, 2017 00:00 IST
Hiral Dave and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hiral Dave and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad/New Delhi
Gujarat election result,counting of votes,Gujarat elections
A polling official checks an electronic voting machine at a dispatch center before proceeding to his allotted station for the second phase of voting for the Gujarat assembly elections in Ahmedabad.(AP Photo)

Ahead of the counting of votes in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh on Monday, the top brass of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were in a huddle to discuss possible scenarios the declaration of results would deliver in the politically crucial home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Most exit polls have predicted a comfortable victory for the BJP in the elections for 182-member Gujarat assembly but the Congress insists that the result will be “surprising” for pollsters.

In Gujarat, the BJP wound up its election office in a swanky mall on the outskirts of Gandhinagar and held a meeting of all its candidates and polling agents.

As Congress leaders alleged tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs), chief minister Vijay Rupani termed it a signal of their impending defeat. Rupani had earlier said that the BJP will win 150 seats, the target set by party president Amit Shah.

In Delhi, the BJP started preparations for celebrations by stocking crackers and preparing sweets for distribution among party workers on Monday. Shah also held a meeting with office-bearers on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi met party leaders involved in the election campaign to seek their assessment, especially in view of the exit polls that predicted a big win for the ruling BJP.

There was unanimity among the Congress leaders that their party will get between 105 and 110 seats and form the next government in the state.

Sources privy to the meeting said some leaders expressed concern over the “buzz on the ground” about the alleged tampering with the EVMs, and insisted that if the Congress gets anything below 80 seats, the party should aggressively push for the use of ballot papers in all future polls.

Sources said Gandhi, who led the Congress campaign from the front, wanted to know why there was a “mismatch” between the exit poll projections and the party’s internal assessment. He was told that the “pollsters predictions could be used as an alibi by the BJP to tamper” with EVMs.

Riding piggy-back on the face of Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, besides inducting Other Backward Class (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakor into its fold, the Congress is for the first time fancying its chances in the western state after 22 years. Chhabildas Mehta was the last Congress CM in 1995.

The Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Ellisbridge locality of Ahmedabad was also abuzz with action as the Congress held an assessment meeting where all its candidates were in attendance.

“We will win more than 120 seats. The BJP will bite the dust like it did in Delhi and Bihar elections,” Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said, rebuffing exit polls that have predicted a comfortable win for the BJP.

Amid a flurry of activities at the rival camps, Patidar leader Hardik Patel – chose to spend Sunday at Somnath temple in coastal Prabhas Patan town in Gir Somnath district. But his spiritual day out did not prevent him from keeping up his incessant attack on the BJP for “tampering with EVMs”.

In a series of tweets, Patel claimed that the EVMs were hacked. “If human bodies created by God can be tampered with then why can there be no tampering with man-made EVMs!! If ATMs can be hacked into, then why not EVMs,” he tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

Hours before, in another tweet, he claimed that EVMs will be hacked into by an Ahmedabad-based firm. “An Ahmedabad-based company is preparing to hack into 5,000 EVMs through its source code using 140 software engineers,” tweeted the Patidar quota crusader, whose outfit Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) backed the Congress in the polls.

He went on to claim that if EVMs would not be tampered with, “then the BJP will not get more than 82 seats”.

At many places, the Congress is reported to have stationed its workers to keep a watch on strong rooms to ensure that no unauthorised person enters. BJP has also deputed workers to keep an eye on the 33 counting centres across the state.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 19:18 IST