The BJP lotus sweeps Hindi heartland, blooms in West Bengal and Odisha
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday returned to power for a second term with an even bigger mandate of 303 seats with a virtual sweep across the Hindi heartland and opening new frontiers in West Bengal and Odisha. The Congress was decimated for the second consecutive time, failing to open its account in as many as 17 States, with its party president Rahul Gandhi losing in the family bastion of Amethi.
The BJP won 63 of the 65 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the three States where it had lost the Assembly elections to the Congress just six months ago. The party was set to make a clean sweep of all the seats in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, while it had retained all but one seat in neighbouring Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
From the northern hills and plains to Karnataka in the South, where the BJP was set to win 23 of the 28 seats, and the new eastern frontier of West Bengal, where the BJP was set to make an impressive collection of 18 out of 42 seats, the BJP has decidedly shrugged off the tag of being a “north Indian party”.
The BJP was also set to form the government in Arunachal Pradesh, where the Assembly poll trends showed the ruling party leading in 30 of the 60 constituencies.
The victorious Prime Minister strode into the BJP headquarters, undeterred by the unseasonal rain in the Capital late in the evening, as a raucous mass of party workers greeted him with chants of “Modi, Modi”.
In an emotional 45-minute speech to the gathered supporters, Modi said he dedicated “every second of my day and every particle of my body to the nation”. He especially reached out to the new Chief Ministers-elect in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha – YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik. Although the BJP on its own has a simple majority in Parliament, the outreach to Naveen Patnaik and Jaganmohan Reddy was underlined even by BJP President Amit Shah, who said, “From the BJP, I want to congratulate Jagan Mohan Reddy. In Odisha, I want to congratulate Naveen Patnaik. In Sikkim, Pawan Chamling and his party need to be congratulated.” Shah said the writing on the wall is clear in West Bengal: “In West Bengal, we will say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Despite State-sponsored repression and rigging, we have won 18 seats. Of five Assembly seats, we have won four. This shows the way forward for Bengal, we will establish our supremacy in Bengal.”