Ahmedabad/Shimla, December 20: Chief Minister Narendra Modi returned to power with a sweeping and politically significant electoral win in Gujarat but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced defeat in Himachal Pradesh.
Modi used his victory speech to raise the national pitch saying the Gujarat verdict was a victory for "Mother India".
In Gujarat, which Modi has ruled since 2001, the BJP bagged 115 seats, two short of its 117 tally of 2007. A bruised Congress took 61 seats, two more than what it got five years ago.
The Gujarat Parivartan Party of Modi baiter Keshubhai Patel was humbled -- it got just two seats including his own.
Expressing joy over Modi’s win V K Saxena of National council for civil liberties (NCCL) said, “A total and unmitigated defeat of congress party in Gujarat. While millions will rejoice, this will heart too many NGOs. A new phase in the history of India begins. Modi's march with arsenal of democracy to free India from corruption and nepotism is irreversible.”
The Congress win in Himachal was equally emphatic.
In the hill state, the BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal government conceded defeat to the Congress that won a comfortable 36 seats in the 68-member assembly. The BJP, which had got 41 seats in 2007, plunged to 26.
The win in Gujarat, which sends 26 MPs to the Lok Sabha against Himachal's four, dominated the political space, with the BJP exulting and the Congress looking for ways to explain its loss.
BJP veteran Arun Jaitley termed the Gujarat win as "emphatic" and its loss in Himachal "disappointing".
"Our victory in Gujarat is the fifth in a row (since 1995) and the third in a row with Narendra Modi at the helm," he said.
Modi, who used innovations like 3-D technology to reach out in this election, visited his mother to get her blessings and even rival Keshubhai Patel after the results were out.
As he spoke at his victory rally in Maninagar, Ahmedabad, thousands of supporters began to chorus "PM, PM, PM, PM....
"I seek your forgiveness if there has been drawbacks, mistakes (in my administration)," said Modi.
The Congress, which leaned on party president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi to inject life into its campaign in Gujarat, failed to derail Modi but had the satisfaction of winning two seats more than in 2007.
The Congress, however, welcomed the "thumping victory" in Himachal, where its veteran leader Virbhadra Singh steered it to power.
The party will decide on its leader when the Congress Legislative Party meets in two to three days -- 28 of 36 elected legislators owe alliance to Virbhadra Singh.