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The Narenda Modi ‘tsunami’ sweeps UP

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-03-2017 A Staff Writer

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stormed back to power in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday after a gap of 14 years, receiving a decisive mandate in an election that some analysts had termed too close to call.

There was nothing close about the outcome in India’s largest and most populous state, where the BJP was set to win at least 299 of 403 assembly seats, according to results and trends available on the Election Commission website at 1.20pm.

The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) were left bruised and battered, with leads in 65 and 17 seats, respectively.

The BJP was also set to wrest Uttarakhand from the Congress, having established a lead in 58 seats out of the 70 in the assembly.

The Congress was decisively ahead in Punjab, set to win 79 seats out of the 117 in the assembly. The BJP and Congress were neck-and-neck in Goa, where the former received a setback in the crushing defeat of chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar. In Manipur, the Congress was leading in 17 seats and the BJP was right behind with leads in 16 seats.

The Uttar Pradesh outcome was a personal triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who staked his political capital on an election that some had seen as a vote on the 8 November invalidation of high-value bank notes.

Modi himself and BJP president Amit Shah had been supremely confident of the BJP’s return to power in Uttar Pradesh. The prime minister said on the campaign trail that the party’s 14-year exile from the state of 204 million people was set to end, and was proven right on Saturday.

“It is a Modi wave. The wave which started with 2014 Lok Sabha elections is continuing in 2017 and the momentum will go beyond the 2019 general elections,” said BJP Uttar Pradesh chief Keshav Prasad Maurya.

Few had foreseen the scale of the BJP’s triumph, although most exit polls had seen it emerging from the election as the single largest party in the assembly.

“How the hell did almost all the experts/analysts miss this wave in UP? It’s a tsunami not a ripple in a small pond,” former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said in a Twitter post.

The Congress admitted that the loss in UP—its campaign was led by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who forged the alliance with the Samajwadi Party in which it was the junior partner—was hurtful.

“Yes, UP is a bad loss, it hurts,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi. “I agree that, in UP, we need fundamental restructuring for the Congress as a whole. These have to be hard, tough decisions about strategy.”

PTI contributed to this story.

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