Congress makes huge gains in Gujarat, Himachal, defies pollsters

Rahul lost; Modi won but this was not the kind of win the prime minister was expecting for his party. Photograph:( Others )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 18, 2017, 04.32 AM (IST)

The predictions made by exit polls for Gujarat seem to be a little off the mark with BJP and Congress locked in a close battle. Most of the pollsters had given BJP anywhere between 100-120 seats, and that might happen if the party is able to convert early leads into results, but Congress is emerging as the real winner.

If the early leads convert into results, the Congress is doing much better than expected. All pollsters had predicted a comfortable win for the BJP and the trends are proving pollsters wrong. Gujarat has been the BJP's laboratory and the party has held the state from 1995. Today's results not withstanding, the party will have to go back to the drawing board to see what has resulted in this massive dent in their support base in the state.

A party needs 92 seats in the 182-seat Gujarat assembly to form the government. When the campaign was launched in November, BJP president Amit Shah had claimed then party would win 150 seats. But that seems to be a very difficult target the achieve now.

In the 2012 assembly elections in Gujarat, the Congress had 61 seats and was a distant second to the BJP which had won 115. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had won all the 26 parliamentary seats in the state.

In Himachal Pradesh, trends indicate it's a close race between the Congress and the BJP with the BJP ahead in 33 of the 55 seats for which trends are available. The Congress is ahead in 19 and Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was embattled with graft charges, is doing better that expected.

The state has 68 assembly seats and most pollsters predicted a comfortable victory for the BJP, giving the party 45-50 seats. That Congress wipeout doesn't seem to be happening.

Every pollster had predicted a BJP win in Himachal Pradesh. The India Today-Axis poll gave BJP 47-55 seats out of a total of 68. The ruling Congress, they said, was expected to slump to anywhere between 13-20 seats.

Today's Chanakya, another prominent pollster, had predicted 55 seats for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh and 13 for Congress.