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BJP Retains Gujarat, Wins Himachal, Rahul Raises Question Over PM Modi's Credibility

NEW DELHI: A day after assembly poll results of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh which went in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), newly-minted Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the Gujarat results raise serious questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's credibility.

Gujarat had given a message to the BJP and Modi that the anger within them would not work, Mr. Gandhi said. `` Frankly, Modiji has a credibility problem and he will find it very difficult... Because what he is saying, his forces and his organisation are repeating that.  But the country is not listening to that. This, the Gujarat election has shown. In the coming times, you will see this clearly," he said.

While talking to reporters, Mr. Gandhi sharply attacked Mr. Modi's Gujarat model of development, describing it as "good propaganda" and marketing, but "hollow from within".

Referring to the Gujarat poll result, he described it as ``very good’’ for the Congress. His party bagged 77 seats , while the ruling BJP managed to retain power with 99 seats in the 182-member assembly.

During the campaigning in Gujarat, PM Modi did not talk about the problems that were facing the people of the state. ``He neither talked about development nor about the problems of farmers and the traders,’’ Mr. Gandhi said.

Though the BJP had put an ambitious target of 150-plus seats for itself in Gujarat elections, its tally stopped at 99, down from 115 which it had won in 2012. The party, riding on the micro-management of its President Amit Shah and popularity of Prime Minister Modi, scored a sixth straight victory.  The tally of Congress in 2012 was 61 and it went up by another 16 seats with Rahul Gandhi’s cowboys Jignesh Mewani, Alpesh Thakur winning their seats and Hardik Patel providing solid support during campaigning.

Though the BJP is all set to form its sixth government in Gujarat, many of its heavyweights and six of its ministers and the Assembly Speaker were humbled by the Congress in the elections.

Top Congress leaders and some party heavyweights also tasted defeat but the party showed up in brighter colours as compared to 2012.  Among the senior Congress leaders defeated were Arjun Modhwadia, Shaktisinh Gohil, Siddharth Patel and Tushar Chaudhary.

Several BJP leaders, MLAs and ministers fell by the wayside. These included Minister of State Shankar Chaudhary who lost to  Congress's Geniben Thakor. 

Cabinet rank minister and BJP's Dalit leader Atmaram Parmar was defeated by Congress's Pravinbhai Maru. His Cabinet colleague  Chimanbhai Saparia was defeated by Chiragbhai Kalariya of the Congress from Jamjodhpur. Minister of  State for backward class welfare Keshaji Chauhan lost by a slender margin of 972 votes from the Deodar constituency.

In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP managed to oust the Congress but faced embarrassment as its chief ministerial aspirant Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73-year-old party veteran and a former chief minister, lost from Sujanpur seat to his immensely popular Congress opponent Rajendra Singh Rana.

BJP President Amit Shah said the parliamentary board, the party’s highest decision-making body, would decide on the new Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister in the absence of Mr. Dhumal. With 44 out of 68 seats in the Himalayan State assembly tucked comfortably under its belt, the BJP may look upon Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda or five-time MLA from Mandi Jai Ram Thakur as strong candidates for the CM’s post in Himachal Pradesh. 

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