New Delhi: The results of the four state assembly elections were firmly in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) on Sunday after it won in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, emerged the single largest party in Delhi, and cemented a majority over the Congress in Chhattisgarh after trailing earlier in the day.

In Delhi, the BJP won 31 seats, while the Congress appeared to have been decimated—winning only eight seats. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had won 28 seats in a stunning electoral debut.

In a tight fight between the AAP and the BJP, the debutant was giving a strong fight to the established BJP, making a good start in several constituencies, especially those reserved for scheduled caste candidates. Twelve out of the total 70 assembly seats in Delhi are reserved.

Three-time Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit lost to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi constituency. Meanwhile, the overwhelming defeat of the Congress—even if this assessment is as yet based on leads and not seats won—forced Dikshit to put in her papers.

Kejriwal’s popular appeal pits him against the low-profile Harsh Vardhan, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. While Kejriwal is a former Indian Revenue Services (IRS) officer who quit the bureaucracy to become an anti-corruption activist, Harsh Vardhan is a physician credited with leading the polio-eradication drive as health minister in the BJP’s Delhi government in 1993-1998.

Delhi’s halfway mark is at 35 seats and a government needs 36 seats to be in power. Some exit polls published on Wednesday had predicted a hung assembly in the city-state.

The Congress was disappointed by the trends, spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

The BJP was confident of performing well in Rajasthan after its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed several political rallies during the campaign. Members of the legislative assembly from Gujarat also campaigned in Rajasthan.

Soon after it became clear that the BJP is heading towards a landslide victory in Rajasthan, chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje acknowledged that the performance of the party was because of the Modi wave in the state. “Modi wave has played a decisive role in Rajasthan assembly election," Raje told media on the basis of the leads in assembly election.

The BJP has put up a good show in the crucial Mewar region of the state. Leaders of both the BJP and the Congress parties believe that the party which performs well in the tribal-dominated Mewar region is likely to form the government in the state. The notion is not unfounded, as during the 2008 election Congress won 20, while the BJP got six seats in the region.

Similarly, in the 2003 assembly, when the BJP formed the government, the party had won 22 seats. The 28 seats in Mewar are spread over six districts—Udaipur, Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh, Rajsamand and Chittorgarh.

This time around, the performance of the Congress party appears to be dismal, with the party leading in only six seats and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leading in one seat in the Mewar region.

The performance in the region indicate that the Modi factor was working well in the region because the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had started his election campaign from Udaipur. The importance of Mewar can also be gauged by the fact that many legislators visited the region to campaign for Modi and Raje.

Although Raje had lost the 2008 assembly election to Ashok Gehlot of the Congress party, this time the BJP has improved upon its performance from 2003. The BJP had won 120 seats in 2003. The party is leading in 128 seats.

In Madhya Pradesh, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP completed a hat-trick after the party won 163 seats in the 230-member assembly. The party was leading in another 1 seat as of press time. The Congress won 58 seats, while the BSP had won five.

The Chouhan-led government’s welfare schemes appeared to have helped the BJP, which has rolled out popular schemes such as the Ladli Laxmi Yojana (monetary assistance to the girl child), Mukhyamantri Cycle Vitaran Yojana (distribution of bicycles to school children), Mukhyamantri Annapurna Yojana (foodgrain at subsidised rates) and Atal Jyoti Abhiyan (24-hour power for rural households and 8-hour supply available for farmers).

In Chhattisgarh, the BJP pulled ahead after a neck-to-neck fight with the Congress. The BJP won 48 seats, while the Congress won 40 seats in the elections to the 90-seat assembly.

The Congress is relying on the anti-incumbency against BJP legislators and some ministers as well as the sympathy that was created by the 25 May Darbha valley Maoist attack on its top leaders.

Trends show the Congress leading in constituencies in Bastar—a key tribal region that helped the BJP pull off a win the last time around. In 2008, the BJP took a clear lead ahead of the Congress as it won 11 of 12 seats in Bastar. Once a Congress bastion, the region has backed the BJP overwhelmingly in the recent past.

Devati Karma, widow of the slain Congress leader Mahendra Karma, is the Congress candidate from Dantewada. Political observers say dominance in Bastar could help the Congress wrest a slight edge in a tight fight.

Meanwhile, Surjewala dismissed suggestions that the performance of the BJP in the assembly polls will lead it sweeping the Lok Sabha elections due by May next year.

“We really cannot extricate the two, assembly polls and Lok Sabha elections, completely," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman said. The BJP said that the performance of the state governments is largely the factor on the basis of which people will vote.

But Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi dismissed suggestions that the trends showed that there was a Modi wave in the country.

Meanwhile, voters in reserved assembly constituencies for scheduled castes and tribes have shown a high degree of enthusiasm for the none of the above (NOTA) option, this being the first time voters in India have been given the right to exercise this option.

While Rajasthan’s Sujangarh constituency had 321 NOTA votes, Merta had 150, Ajmer South 167, Dag 141 and Ramganj Mandi 281 votes. Delhi’s Deoli had 69, Kondli had 84 and Ambedkar Nagar 38 NOTA votes. All these constituencies are reserved for scheduled caste and tribe candidates.

The Supreme Court on 27 September directed the Election Commission to introduce a none-of-the-above button in electronic voting machines.

“Not allowing a person to cast vote negatively defeats the very freedom of expression and the right ensured in Article 21, i.e., the right to liberty," said the ruling. “Democracy is all about choice. This choice can be better expressed by giving the voters an opportunity to verbalize themselves unreservedly and by imposing least restrictions on their ability to make such a choice."

The commission was quick to follow on the directive and made the option available in the voting machines for the assembly elections in Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram.

Vasundhara Raje’s Jhalarpatan constituency in Rajasthan saw 187 NOTA votes, though it is not a reserved constituency. Another 135 NOTA votes were polled in Rajasthan’s Sadulshahar, 334 in Sardarshahar, 202 in Taranagar, 321 in Sujangarh and 194 in Rajsamand.

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