Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wins Maningar seat for record third-time. He defeated Shweta Bhatt by over 70, 000 votes.Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi looked set for a third consecutive victory in the Assembly elections and leading the race for Prime Ministerial candidate in BJP in 2014 while Congress appeared to be wresting power from the saffron party in Himachal Pradesh.
The BJP was leading in 118 of the 182 seats in Gujarat while Congress was ahead in 59. Former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's GPP on which the Congress hoped to defeat Modi fared very badly. The NCP and JDU were leading in one seat each.
In the last elections in 2007, the BJP had won 117 seats and Congress 59. However, the party was set for a debacle in Himachal Pradesh, a state which has stuck to its habit of voting out an incumbent government.
The Congress, which put up a spirited campaign under former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, is all set to return to power in the hill state.
The party has already won two seats and was leading in 35 seats in the 68-member Assembly. BJP was leading in 23 seats and has won two seats. 'Others' led in four seats having won in one. Congress had won 23 seats and BJP 41 in the 2007 polls.
The BJP's hat-trick in retaining power in Gujarat added grist to political mill speculating on Modi becoming the party's PM candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections. BJP MP Smriti Irani openly declared that Modi is her Prime Ministerial candidate. However, the party was cautious to comment on the issue. Suspended MP Ram Jethmalani said that the victore has "definitely" strengthened Modi's contention for being the PM candidate.
Chief Spokesperson of BJP Ravi Shankar Prasad, however,parried questions on the issue saying Modi has always been an important leader in the party.
"We are not a dynastic party, which is led by a Yuavaraj.We function in a pure democratic fashion," he said without committing on Modi. In a signficant comment, Modi tweeted that it was time to move "forward".
"No need of looking behind...FORWARD...we want infinite energy, infinite courage, infinite patience..." Modi said on the microblogging site Twitter as trends indicated a clear victory for him.
Congress leaders sought to downplay their defeat and also the possible emergence of Modi as a PM candidate. Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Congress is the "clear winner" in Gujarat having "contained" Modi and BJP.
They said that victory in Assembly polls does not guarantee Modi's acceptability in national politics.Modi was leading by 70,000 votes in Maninagar constituency against Shweta Bhatt. He has polled 94,646 votes while Shweta, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, has polled 24,095 votes so far after 12 rounds of counting,official sources said.
In 2007, Modi had won the elections by more than 87,000 votes.