New Delhi: The Congress was leading in the BJP-ruled states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and was locked in a close fight in Madhya Pradesh while the TRS forged ahead in Telangana and the MNF in Mizoram, trends indicated on Tuesday as votes for elections in the five States were counted.
The Rahul Gandhi-led party became the focal point of attention as the morning progressed and trends showed it could possibly steal a march over rival BJP in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
In Madhya Pradesh, the picture changed minute to minute, in an electoral exercise being seen as a semi-final to 2019.
“Trends show Congress marching ahead to victory in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh. We are confident the trend will continue across the country,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot said in Jaipur.
With election trends showing reverses for the BJP, senior BJP leader and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the polls were fought on the basis of the performance of State governments, rejecting the notion that the results would be a reflection of the Modi government.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament, he also offered his congratulations to all the winning parties and candidates.
In the desert State of Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 97 seats, three short of the magic number of 100, and the BJP in 75, according to the website of the Rajasthan chief electoral officer.
Independents were leading in 12 seats. Voters in the State, it appeared, stuck to the “revolving door” trend of choosing the BJP and the Congress alternately.
Though Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was ahead of the Congress’ Manvendra Singh in her constituency Jhalrapatan, about 12 of her ministers, including Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria and Transport Minister Yoonus Khan, were trailing, according to the State Election Commission’s website.
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot was leading in Tonk and Congress’ former chief minister Ashok Gehlot in Sardarpura. The choice of who would be chief minister if the Congress comes to power had analysts playing the guessing game.
The two leaders told reporters that a call on who will be chief minister will be taken by the MLAs and party president Rahul Gandhi, for whom this is being seen as a make or break electoral exercise.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was poised to oust the BJP which was seeking a fourth straight term in office under the leadership of Chief Minister Raman Singh.
According to the Election Commission, the Congress was ahead in 54 of the 90 seats, leaving the BJP trailing with 17 seats. The Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) of former chief minister Ajit Jogi was ahead in four seats.
“The shocker if at all is Chhattisgarh,” BJP leader Shaina NC said. Jogi said he was happy with the trends and people wanted to oust the Raman Singh government.
Neighbouring Madhya Pradesh was a tantalising see-saw battle between the BJP, seeking a fourth term in power, and the Congress, desperate to stage a comeback in the central Indian state that was once its stronghold.
The BJP was leading in 103 seats and the Congress, in 112 in trends available for 224 of the 230 seats.
The Bahujan Samaj Party was ahead in four seats, according to Election Commission figures.
“We are going to get a full majority. There is no question about it,” Congress leader Kamal Nath told reporters.
In southern Telangana, trends indicated a clear landslide verdict for the Telangana Rashtra Samithi with leads in 90 seats. The Congress was way behind with leads in 16 seats, according to the Election Commission. The BJP was ahead in one and the TDP, in two.
In the northeast state of Mizoram, the Mizoram National Front was ahead in 20 seats, the Congress, in five and the BJP, in one.
Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla was defeated by MNF’s T J Lalnuntluanga by 856 votes in Champhai South, Election Commission sources said.
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee said people are “always the man of the match in a democracy” and the semi-final had proved that the BJP was “nowhere in these states”.