The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday scored a massive victory in Uttarakhand winning 56 of the 70 seats in the state to storm to power, reducing Congress to minuscule minority in the state assembly with a poor tally of 11 seats.
Two seats went to Independents while counting in one seat is still underway.
It is for the first time in the 16-year history of Uttarakhand that a party has emerged with an impressive tally like this.
BJP leaders attributed it to the Narendra Modi wave and a strong anti-incumbency against Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who lost both the seats he contested.
“While a strong Modi wave worked in our favour, there was a palpable anti-incumbency factor in the wake of corruption touching a new low under Harish Rawat,” state BJP spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan who himself came out with flying colours from Vikasnagar in Dehradun said.
The Congress suffered a double whammy as Pradesh Congress Committee president Kishore Upadhyay also lost in Sahaspur.
However, the BJP also had its share of sad tiding as Pradesh party president Ajay Bhatt lost in Ranikhet -- a defeat party leaders attributed to a rebel who was denied a ticket and had entered the fray as an Independent.
The victory margin between the Congress and the BJP this time is massive as they were neck and neck in the last assembly polls with the BJP winning only one seat less than Congress which formed government with the help of six-member Progressive Democratic Front.
The Modi wave blew away many a Congress citadel as a number of Rawat’s cabinet colleagues including S S Negi, Dinesh Aggarwal, Mantri Prasad Naithani, Dinesh Dhanai, Harish Chandra Durgapal and Navprabhat lost their seats.
However, Rawat’s senior cabinet colleague Indira Hridayesh and Pritam Singh succeeded in protecting their fortresses.
All Congress turncoats or erstwhile rebel MLAs fielded by the BJP barring two exceptions of Shailarani Rawat and Shailendra Mohan Singhal won their seats including Sobodh Uniyal from Narendranagar, Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion from Khanpur, Yashpal Arya from Bajpur, Rekha Arya from Someshwar, Umesh Sharma Kau from Raipur, and Pradeep Batra from Roorkee.
Of the eleven MLAs who revolted against Rawat and later joined BJP only Vijay Bahuguna and Amrita Rawat had not been fielded by the BJP.
Bahuguna’s son Saurav had been fielded by the saffron party from his father’s Sitarganj constituency which he won.
Amrita Rawat’s husband Satpal Maharaj also won from Chaubattakhal for the BJP.
Pradesh BJP president Ajay Bhatt who lost from Ranikhet thanked the people of the state for giving an overwhelming mandate to the party saying personal victory or loss did not mean much for him.
‘People were sick of the rule of corruption, fear and loot and voted for Narendra Modi’s and Amit Shah’s all-inclusive development agenda,’ Bhatt said in a statement.
He said the party will now honour the faith reposed in it by the people of the state.
Counting to one of the 70 seats named Lohaghat could not be completed due to eight electronic voting machines going out of order there.
Election office sources here said the Commission has been apprised with the development.
However, when the EVMs conked out, BJP’s Puran Singh Fartyal was ahead of his nearest rival Khushal Singh of the Congress by 450 votes.
IMAGE: BJP in-charge for Uttarakhand Shyam Jaju with Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank celebrating the party's victory in assembly elections in Dehradun on Saturday. Photograph: PTI Photo