Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP returned to power with a win in 44 constituencies as the results of the Himachal Pradesh elections showed the ouster of Congress party. The counting of votes for the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh began at 8am. The Election Commission of India announced the final votes counted for the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh election on Monday night. People in the hill state have, in recent times, alternated between the Congress and the BJP in assembly elections every five years.There are 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh assembly, elections to which were held on November 9. A party needed 35 seats to be able to form a government.Click here to see Himachal Pradesh election results broken down by party, coalition, gender, margin of victory, and more.Here are highlights of the Himachal Pradesh election results: 11:40pm: Results in the Sujanpur constituency, from where BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is contesting, were the last to be declared. Dhumal lost by 1919 votes to his once-protege Rajinder Rana who contested on a Congress ticket.11:38pm: Election Commission declares results for all seats. Tally stands as follows:BJP – 44 (48.8% vote share)Congress – 21 (41.7% vote share)CPI(M) – 1 (1.5% vote share)Independents – 2 (6.3% vote share)9:12pm: Counting in its last stages as results for three seats left to be declared. BJP wins 44 seats while Congress may yet bag two more. 9:04pm: BJP increases its vote share to 48.8% with seat tally at 43.8:46pm: Results on five seats left to be declared. Of 68, BJP holds 42 seats. 8:25pm: As counting continues, BJP gains more. Tally at 40 seats with lead in four others. 8:10pm: BJP bagged 38 seats with a lead in six constituencies. Congress gains one more to reach 19 seats. 7:58pm: BJP gains two more seats, crosses the 35-seat mark required to form government. 7:43pm: Union minister JP Nadda says defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Tomar will go to Himachal Pradesh to discuss about the party leadership in the state. 7:30pm: BJP gains, taking its seat tally to 34 with a lead in 10 constituencies. Congress also increases its share with 18 seats and a lead in three. 7:15pm: Congress tweets out a positive message to supporters, with its eyes on next year’s elections. “The Congress Party extends a huge thank you to the people of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat for having faith in us and giving us their vote. Our congratulations to the Bharatiya Janta Party. However we aren’t taking off our gloves just yet; see you on the campaign trail in 2018!”7pm: Counting in 16 constituencies left, including Sujanpur from where BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is contesting. 6:38pm: “People in Himachal Pradesh gave a positive vote. It shows that people will not accept you after five years if you are embroiled in wrongdoing,” says Modi.6:33pm: Modi says Himachal and Gujarat have chosen the path of “vikas” (development).6:31pm: Supporters chant ‘Modi, Modi’ as he begins speaking. 6:27pm: Amit Shah says with these victories, the party moves forward to achieving PM Modi’s 2022 vision for a better developed India. 6:25pm: PM Modi arrives at BJP headquarters in New Delhi for celebrations. Party chief Amit Shah weclomes him. 6pm: Counting still in progress for 21 constituencies. BJP is leading in 14 of these. 5:48pm: BJP set to form government as counting of votes gives party 48.6% vote percentage so far. Congress comes in second with 41.9%.5:15pm: Congress’ Rajinder Rana defeats BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal in Sujanpur. “It’s a symbol of people’s confidence in Congress. Thankful that they made me victorious. We have never stepped back from serving people in Sujanpur and we will always serve them,” says Rana.4:56pm: Vikramaditya Singh, son of chief minister Virbhadra Singh, is set to win Shimla rural. “I’ll always stand with government, whichever party it might be of, and serve people. As a son I am sad we couldn’t make it possible for him (Virbhadra Singh) to become the CM a seventh time. We’ll analyse our drawbacks in meeting,” ANI quoted him as saying. 4:55pm: Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan says party is sad about Prem Kumar Dhumal’s loss but are “happy that people of Himachal Pradesh voted for BJP”.4:51pm: Counting continues in Himachal Pradesh. However, BJP is the clear victor.4:44pm: BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, who lost in Sujanpur, says verdict was unexpected but looks ahead. “Personal loss is not of much importance.The gain that victory has brought to state BJP is important... In politics, sometimes one wins, sometimes one losses. I was not expecting to lose, I will do an analysis,” ANI quotes Dhumal as saying.4:29pm: Rahul Gandhi commends party workers for fighting with dignity. “My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he tweets. 4:25pm: Congress president Rahul Gandhi congratulates “new governments”. “The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” he tweets. 4:23pm: The 2/3rd lead in Himachal Pradesh shows that people want to join PM Modi in the journey to development, says BJP chief Shah.4:21pm: Happy that our fight against corruption in the state has yielded results, says Amit Shah. 4:17pm: “We are confident that when we go into 2019 elections under the leadership of PM Modi, we will once again get people’s support and Modi’s aim for the youth in 2022 will become a reality,” says Shah. 4:15pm: Amit Shah says the BJP’s vote share in the state has increased by 10% from the last time. 4:10pm: Amit Shah thanks the people of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat for another opportunity to serve them.4:08pm: BJP's chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal loses to Congress’ Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur with a close to 3000 vote margin. 4:07pm: Amit Shah begins press conference. Congratulates BJP for its victory in both states.3:55pm: Congress’ Virbhadra Singh wins in Arki with 34499 votes as party loses. “I accept the victory of BJP. I, being the CM, take full responsibility of our performance here. I hope (son) Vikramaditya keeps winning in future, like he won today,” ANI quoted Singh as saying. 3:32pm: “I bow to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for their affection and trust in BJP. I assure them that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” Modi tweets. 3:30pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulates BJP for its lead in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. “Election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh indicate a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP Karyakartas in these states for their hardwork which has led to these impressive victories,” Modi says on Twitter.3:20pm: BJP president Amit Shah arrives at the party head quarters to address media.3:11pm: One more seat added to BJP’s kitty. Congress falls to 18.  2:54pm: BJP strengthens its hold in the state, leads in 45 constituencies. Congress slumps to 19 while the ‘Others’ camp remains constant at 4. 2:45pm: 8 seats of Himachal Pradesh have been declared by the Election Commission so far: 5 to BJP, 2 to Congress and 1 for CPI(M).2:30pm: A look at the results so far 2:04pm: Goa chief minister and former defence minister in the Modi government, Manohar Parrikar, says about Rahul Gandhi: “In his opening innings, he scored zero.” 1:57pm: Union home minister Rajnath Singh flashes victory sign outside Parliament while defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman says BJP’s performance was “undoubtedly, a major victory”.  Read | Gujarat election results: How second phase saved the day for BJP in prestige battle1:55pm: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath comments on BJP’s victory, saying: “Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh results are a lesson to those who forget political courtesy and indulge in unparliamentary language. Those raising question mark on the Prime Minister will now have to accept his leadership.”1:50pm: CPI-M hails victory of its candidate Rakesh Singha from Theog. “This victory is all the more significant as it comes in the background of a highly polarised election between two major parties,” a statement read.“This victory reflects the faith the people of Theog have reposed in the CPI-M to protect their rights and work for people’s interests in the Himachal Pradesh assembly.”1:40pm: JNU student leader Shehla Rashid responds to election results, congratulates Congress’ Rahul Gandhi for putting up a good fight.1:20pm: As some Congress supporters protest against alleged EVM tampering, former chief election commissioner of India, HS Brahma, tells ANI: “I firmly believe that our EVMs, VVPATs cannot be tampered with. This matter should be closed once and for all as it is tried and tested. EVM is a standalone machine, the question of hacking doesn’t arise.”1:10pm: Narinder Bragta, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is the likely winner in Jubbal-Kotkhai constituency, where the brutal rape and murder of a Class 10 girl ignited protests over law and order issue against the Virbhadra Singh government. 1:05pm: BJP candidate from Shimla, Suresh Bhardwaj, celebrates his victory with supporters in Himachal Pradesh.1pm: “It is a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development,” says Union minister Smriti Irani when asked about Congress giving a tough fight in 2017 assembly elections. “Jo jeeta wohi sikandar. It is victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development.”12:48pm: BJP’s CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is now trailing by nearly 2,800 votes in Sujanpur. 12:35pm: Rahul Gandhi arrives in Parliament for the winter session. 12:32pm: Congress president Rahul Gandhi leaves his residence in New Delhi. The 2017 assembly elections were widely considered a test for the newly-elected president who took charge as party chief on November 16. 12:30pm: Three seats have been declared by Election Commission -- 2 in favour of BJP and 1 for Congress.  12:25pm: About 0.9% or 25,282 opted for ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in Himachal Pradesh in the 2017 assembly elections. 12:10pm: BJP is now ahead in 42 seats, Indian National Congress in 22, and others in 4. 12pm: Although BJP is set to form a government in Himachal, it’s CM candidate is losing in Sujanpur by a margin of over 2000 seats. The candidate leading is Congress’ Rajinder Rana with 12, 187 votes recorded so far. 11:50am: Counting of votes underway, BJP ahead in 44 seats while Congress takes 22 and other contenders, including CPM, bag 4.  11:45am: CPM’s Rakesh Singha wins from Theog assembly seat. 11:35am: BJP workers celebrate in Himachal Pradesh as the party readies to make a government in the state currently led by Congress. 11:25am: Election Commission officially declares first seat in Himachal Pradesh elections 2017 for Congress candidate Anirudh Singh from the Kasumpti constituency. Singh defeated Vijay Jyoti by a margin of 9,397 votes.Anirudh Singh is a crorepati with a graduate degree, and he has no criminal cases against him. 11:20am: Numbers for all 68 seats of Himachal Pradesh are in. Trends show BJP tally is 44, Congress 21 and Other parties/Independents at 03. 11am: Independent Hoshiyar Singh wins, defeats BJP heavyweight Ravinder Ravi and Congress MP Viplove Thakur.10:55am: Updates figures show BJP leads in 42 seats, Congress bags 23 and others, 3. 10:52am: Bikram Singh Jaryal, of the Bhartiya Janata Party, is leading by a significant margin of 30% over Congress’ Kuldeep Singh Pathania in Bhattiyat. 10:50am: A confident Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at Parliament. Flashes a victory sign.10:47am: Stock markets stabilise after a crash earlier as trends showed the BJP having an upper hand in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.10:45am: BJP’s chief minister candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal reduces margin of loss to 1000. Rajinder Rana, of Indian National Congress, leads from Sujanpur with 6770 votes and Dhumal stands at 5711. 10:41am: “BJP is leading in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Will form government with a clear majority,” says Union home minister Rajnath Singh. 10:25am: “I am sure that in the end Congress will be victorious and form government in the state” says Congress youth leader and CM’s son Vikramaditya Singh. Trends show BJP is ahead by a comfortable margin of victory. Vote percentage share, however, in 60 seats is approximately 50% for BJP and 42% for Congress, according to Election Commission data.   10:23am: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy says the party will convincingly win in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. “... We are winning the majority, there is no doubt about that. BJP will win majority in both the states and that in itself is a big victory,” Swamy tells ANI in New Delhi.10:20am: BJP’s tally reduced by 1 seat, to 40. Congress remains at 25 and other parties gain in one constituency. Independents are leading in two constituencies while the CPI(M) is ahead in one. 10:15am: BJP’s CM candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal trailing by 1,709 votes from Sujanpur although the party is set for a comeback in the state.10am: Incumbent urban development minister Sudhir Sharma trails in Dharamshala.9:55am: CM Virbhadra Singh is ahead by 1,162 votes in Arki, Election Commission results show. 9:50am: As trends emerge for all seats, BJP extends its lead in 41 seats and Congress plays catch-up at 25. Other parties have recorded leads in just 2 seats of the hill state.9:40am: Incumbent CM Virbhadra Singh is ahead in Arki, Himachal Pradesh. Virbhadra, 83, first became Himachal Pradesh chief minister in 1983. He faces a tough election but has a record for emerging stronger every time he is in trouble. However, his image has been hurt because of allegations of corruption and crimes in the state like the rape and murder of a 16-year old school student near Shimla.9:35am: Current tally according to trends: BJP -- 34, Congress -- 19, Others -- 5 9:31am: Health minister Kaul Singh trails from Darang.Follow HT for Live coverage on assembly election 2017 results9:30am: BJP’s chief minister candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is trailing by 540 votes from Sujanpur.Dhumal, 73, was elected as a Lok Sabha member for the first time in 1989 and has been BJP’s face in Himachal for two decades. 9:20am: Amid close battle between Congress and BJP is Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Sensex falls by 600.51 points, currently at 32,862.46. Nifty at 10,134.359:16am: Rural development minister Anil Sharma is now trailing in Mandi. Rajesh Thakur, from BJP, is ahead in Gagret.  9:15am: Sudhir Sharma of Congress is trailing in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. 9:07am: BJP’s Ramlal Markandey leads in Lahaul. Inder Singh from the party is also leading in Balh. 9:05am: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s son and state youth Congress president, Vikrmaditya Singh, leads in Shimla Rural in first round of counting. 9am: As more seats are counted, BJP marches ahead in 18 seats and Congress trails at 11, according to early trends. 8:55am: BJP’s candidates Anil Sharma (Mandi) and Satpal Singh Satti (from Una) are leading. 8:50am: Congress makes headway, bringing down BJP’s lead to 6 seats. Live tally: BJP – 16 Congress – 10 Others – 2  8:46am: BJP ahead in 15 seats while Congress trails at 8. Other parties make their presence known in 2 constituencies. The Congress and the BJP contested in all the 68 constituencies. Most exit polls have indicated the BJP’s return to power with an absolute majority.Read | Why BJP changed strategy, chose Prem Kumar Dhumal as its CM candidate for Himachal Pradesh8:40am: Two more seats go to other parties as early trends show from 11 constituencies where counting is underway. 8:38am: EVMs have been opened at a counting centre in Kasumpati, Shimla, as counting of votes continues. 8:30am: BJP doubles its lead to 6-3 against Congress. Other contenders haven’t yet registered a seat. 8:25am: Congress is trailing by 2 seats, according to Rajya Sabha TV. BJP now has 4 seats. 8:23am: Among 5 seats, BJP is now leading by one. Scores stand at 3-2 in favour of BJP. 8:16am: Early trends on Rajya Sabha TV show BJP is leading 2-1 to Congress from 3 out of 68 seats. Meanwhile, votes are also being counted in Gujarat. Follow Gujarat election results Live here. 8:12am: Postal ballots are de-sealed by officials at a counting centre in Shimla’s Sanjauli.8:10am: Tally remains 0-0 for BJP and Congress as counting of votes begins. 8am: Counting of votes begins in Himachal Pradesh. 7:55am: Supporters perform a hawan outside Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi ahead of counting of votes.7:40am: With 20 minutes to go before counting of votes begins in Himachal Pradesh, take a look at the key candidates in the polls. Click here7:35am: Kotkhai rape case a major poll issue: After the heinous rape and murder of a Class 10 girl, the region fumed with anger and several protests were held across the district. The first protest broke out in Theog, followed by a chain of protests in Kotkhai, Shimla and other parts of districts. But when it came to come out and elect a government, fewer women than men came out to vote in some areas of the state.In terms of candidates contesting the polls, the last time fewer women ran for the Himachal Pradesh assembly was 19 years ago – only 19 women out of 338 are battling for a spot this year. 7:30am: Both the BJP and Congress say they are confident of winning elections in the Himachal. 7am: A total of 2,820 counting staff has been deployed for Monday’s exercise which includes counting supervisors, counting assistants and micro observers.6:45am: Counting of votes will begin at 8am in the hill state, that witnessed a record 75.28% turnout. Adequate security arrangements have been made for counting, which would start simultaneously in all 68 constituencies at 42 counting centres.Exit poll predictions Exit polls released earlier this week said the BJP would oust the Congress and regain power in Himachal Pradesh. The Times Now-VMR and Zee News-Axis exit polls predicted that the BJP would win 51 of the total 68 assembly seats in the state. The Aaj Tak-Axis exit poll gave 47-55 seats to the saffron party, 13-20 to the Congress and 0-2 to others. Among other exit polls, the News X survey predicted that the BJP would win 42-50 seats and the Congress, 18-24.Breaking down the numbers: Apart from BJP and Congress, the BSP contested 42 seats followed by the CPI(M) 14, the Swabhiman Party and the Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.Out of 67 sitting MLAs, 60 MLAS, nine cabinet ministers, HPCC president Sukhvinder Singh Sukkhu, state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti, deputy speaker, Jagat Singh Negi and eight chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS) contested the poll along with a dozen former ministers.