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AHMEDABAD/SHIMLA : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday retained power in Gujarat for a record seventh straight term, securing the biggest majority ever in the state.

While the BJP set new records in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress, as the mountain state continued with its tradition of nearly four decades in voting out the incumbent party.

The vote share difference for the winning Congress and the BJP in Himachal Pradesh was less than 1%. While the Congress, which got a simple majority, polled 43.9% votes, the vote share for the BJP in the home state of party chief J.P. Nadda was 43%.

As Modi continued to hold sway over voters and addressed 31 election rallies in Gujarat, the BJP also checkmated the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) in the first ever triangular contests in the state and pushed the Congress down to its all time low.

congress won 40 out of 68 seats in Himachal and BJP 25
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congress won 40 out of 68 seats in Himachal and BJP 25

Gujarat state BJP president C.R. Paatil said Bhupendra Patel, the party’s 60-year-old soft-spoken face in the state, would remain chief minister and his swearing-in ceremony would be held on 12 December. Patel won the Ghatlodia seat in Ahmedabad by a huge margin of 192,000 votes.

Modi said he was overcome with lot of emotions on the “phenomenal election results" in Gujarat.

He lauded party workers in the state, saying each of them is a champion. “This historic win would never be possible without the exceptionally hard work of our karyakartas, who are the real strength of our party.""People blessed the politics of development and at the same time expressed a desire that they want this momentum to continue at a greater pace. I bow to Gujarat’s jan shakti," he said in a tweet.

At the party event, Modi said Gujarat has broken all records and created history.

The BJP, which focused on a development agenda and overcame anti-incumbency yet again without losing an election since 1995, also equalled the Left Front’s feat of seven consecutive terms in West Bengal. The CPM-led front ruled the eastern state for 34 years from 1977 to 2011.

The BJP, for whom Hindutva remained a political strategy, got support from all sections bagging 155 seats and was leading in 1 in a House of 182. It garnered a vote share of nearly 53%, the highest for the party in the western state.

The BJP, which bagged 99 seats in the 2017 assembly polls with a 49.1% vote share, surpassed its previous best showing of 127 seats in 2002 when Modi was chief minister. Congress holds the all-time record of 149 seats that it had won in 1985 under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki.

With a nearly 13% vote share, the Arvind Kejriwal-headed AAP won only five of the 181 seats it contested. In a video message, the Delhi chief minister said though the AAP has not won many seats, the votes it got helped it attain the national party status. The AAP also called its showing impressive.

Amit Shah said Gujarat has rejected those who do politics of hollow promises, freebies and appeasement. After giving a tough fight to the BJP in the 2017 assembly polls in Gujarat by winning 77 seats, the Congress has hit a nadir in the state where the campaign, mostly shouldered by local leaders, has leaned on door-to-door canvassing for votes as its leader Rahul Gandhi chose to stay away to focus on the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Rahul had aggressively campaigned in 2017. The AAP also appeared to have played spoilsport for the Congress. With a vote share of nearly 28%, the Congress won 17 seats.

In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress won 40 of the 68 seats at stake followed by the BJP, which bagged 25. Independents won three seats.

The AAP, which had fielded candidates in 67 seats, failed to make a debut and had a meagre vote share of 1.1%.

Congress leaders in Himachal credited its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi for the win which came as a boost for the grand old party. Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, who won for the sixth time from Seraj assembly seat in Mandi, said he respects the mandate of the people and submitted his resignation to governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar.

Anti-incumbency against the BJP government and the issue of price rise, coupled with the Congress promising restoration of the old pension scheme and providing 1,500 to every adult woman seemed to be the main factors that worked in its favour.

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