NaMo set to retain power, opposition stunned

Bishnu Sethi named deputy leader of BJP in Odisha Assembly

New Delhi: May 23: In a stunning electoral showing, the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Thursday set to retain power for another five years after making a sweep of the Lok Sabha battle and mauling the opposition.

So stunning was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) showing that it bulldozed the opposition even where it had looked strong, virtually sweeping entire states in northern India and even beyond and making unprecedented inroads in Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal.

Trends from the counting centres showed that the BJP alone was set to bag 298 seats — more than the 282 it won in 2014, catapulting Modi as Prime Minister for the first time.

Along with its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could end up with 343 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats where polling took place.

Congratulations poured in for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was set to be re-elected by over 2.5 lakh votes from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. BJP President Amit Shah was on the road to victory with an equally thumping margin from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

“Our win is India’s victory,” remarked Amit Shah, thanking the voters for supporting the BJP and its allies.

The BJP was set to make a clean sweep of all 26 seats in Gujarat, all 25 in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, all four in Himachal Pradesh and all five in Uttarakhand.

The BJP was also on the road to victory in 28 of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 9 out of 11 in Chhattisgarh, 38 out of the 40 seats in Bihar along with its allies, 10 out of 14 in Jharkhand, 9 out of 10 in Haryana, 23 out of 26 in Karnataka, its southern bastion, 41 out of 48 in Maharashtra along with the Shiv Sena, 19 out of 42 in West Bengal, 6 out of 21 seats in Odisha and all seven seats in Delhi.

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The biggest prize came in Uttar Pradesh, India’s politically most critical state where the saffron party overwhelmed the SP-BSP alliance, establishing solid leads in 60 out of 80 seats, leaving the opposition gasping.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi was trailing to Union Minister Smriti Irani by 10,000 votes in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh although he was elected by a massive margin from Wayanad in Kerala.

UPA Chairperson and senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was on the victory lap in Rae Bareli.

Sensex zoomed past 40,000 points — a lifetime high — as it became clear that Modi was set to retain power.

The BJP’s years of efforts in West Bengal finally bore fruits as its candidates were set to emerge victorious in 19 places, washing out the once formidable Left and leaving the Congress punctured. The BJP won only two seats in 2014.

In Bihar, the BJP and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) were on the top in 15 seats each, crushing the Grand Alliance led by the RJD.

Besides Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP leaders who were on the victory lap included Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Lucknow), Union Minister Giriraj Singh (Begusarai) and the aggressive Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur (Bhopal).

The TRS, which had hoped to sweep Telangana, led in 11 seats while the YSR Congress Party made a sweep of Andhra Pradesh and was also set to take power in the state.

The Congress’ best news came from Punjab where it was leading in 8 of the 13 seats and in Kerala where the party-led UDF had forged ahead in 15 of the 20 seats, dealing a major blow to the Left.

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And in Odisha, the BJD was on the top in 15 of the 21 seats and was also set to retain power in the state in Assembly elections.

In Tamil Nadu, the DMK-led alliance was set to win 23 of the 39 constituencies. And in Jammu and Kashmir, while former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference was set to win, PDP leader and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was trailing at the third spot in militancy-hit Anantnag.

Around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million voters exercised their franchise in the seven-phase elections that began on April 11 and ended on May 19. Election in Vellore in Tamil Nadu was countermanded by the Election Commission. (ians)