The exit polls have predicted that the BJP will come to power with a comprehensive win in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election that took place on November 9. That is exactly what happened, despite the exit polls being off by a few seats.
The voter turnout was 74 percent — the highest in the state in its history — and the exit polls predicted the BJP would get anywhere between 39 and 55 seats. Either way, this is well past the halfway mark of 35 seats in the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly.
However, there is another factor that predicted a win for the BJP. The rivalry between current leaders of the BJP and the Congress in HP — Prem Kumar Dhumal and Virbhadra Singh, respectively — began when Virbhadra became the chief minister in 1993. The BJP and the Congress have formed alternate governments over the 24 years since then — a record of sorts among all the Indian states throughout that time period.
The Congress had won the last election by bagging 36 seats — just one above the halfway mark. Given the electoral history over the years, it was the BJP's turn to win.
That is indeed what happened. However, Dhumal lost from Sujanpur, meaning the BJP will now have to look for another chief ministerial candidate.
Here are the LIVE updates:
8 pm IST: The BJP has officially crossed the halfway mark and is assured of victory in Himachal Pradesh.
7:45 am IST: With Dhumal defeated, the BJP will have to look for a new chief-ministerial candidate.
FM Arun Jaitley and General Secy of the party Saroj Pandey will go as observers to Gujarat & discuss about the leadership in the state. Similarly Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Tomar will go to Himachal Pradesh to discuss about the leadership there: JP Nadda pic.twitter.com/nSWF2znl5m— ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2017
6:20 pm IST: Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah flash the "v for victory" sign in Delhi.
5:30 pm IST: Rajinder Rana speaks after defeating Dhumal.
It's a symbol of people's confidence in Congress. Thankful that they made me victorious. We have never stepped back from serving people in Sujanpur & we will always serve them: Rajinder Rana, Congress candidate who won in Sujanpur against BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal #HimachalResults pic.twitter.com/LZQE9Hiazj— ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2017
5:10 pm IST: We are more than halfway through the announcement of winners, and the BJP is sitting pretty on its lead.
4:50 pm IST: Dhumal admits personal defeat! Here it is, straight from the horse's mouth.
Personal loss is not of much importance.The gain that victory has brought to state BJP is important. Thankful to people of the state for voting for BJP. In politics, sometimes one wins, sometimes one loses. I was not expecting to lose, I will do an analysis: PK Dhumal #Himachal pic.twitter.com/7UrumoxVhp— ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2017
4:45 pm IST: Some reports are claiming that Dhumal has lost or conceded defeat. If that is the case, the BJP may lose yet another Union Cabinet minister to state politics. Read to know more.
4:30 pm IST: Congress president Rahul admits defeat in both states.
My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage.— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) December 18, 2017
4:15 pm IST: The BJP has so far won 15 of the 25 seats whose results have been declared.
3:55 pm IST: Virbhadra Singh concedes defeat on behalf of the Congress.
3:40 pm IST: There is a negligible change in trends, but the results are coming in more frequently now.
3:10 pm IST: The leads are constant for the moment, but the winners' tally is seeing some changes. The BJP has double the number of seats than the Congress as of now.
2:50 pm IST: The results are coming in thick and fast now. The BJP is now officially leading in or has won 45 seats.
2:30 pm IST: With the Himachal Pradesh win, the BJP seems to have set a record of controlling the most number of states in the country. Read all about it HERE.
2:15 pm IST: The BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, seems to have fallen further behind. He is now trailing by nearly 3,000 votes. It could be a jarring blow for the BJP if he ends up losing.
1:35 pm IST: The BJP is now looks poised for 44 seats, as the final announcements for winners trickle in.
1:25 pm IST: Now, BJP workers rejoice in Pune as the party's tally starts to fill up.
1:05 pm IST: The BJP celebrations have spread to Jammu and Kashmir.
12:45 pm IST: While the trends now point to an invariable BJP win, the question now is the number of seats the saffron party will get.
12:30 pm IST: With the BJP poised to win in Himachal Pradesh, the party now rules 19 out of the 31 states and Union Territories in India that have with governments.
Find a detailed report HERE.
12:20 pm IST: The official trends from all 68 seats are in, and the EC has already declared winners. The BJP looks poised to win this one comfortably.
12:10 pm IST: The celebrations praise to Mumbai, even as the counting progresses, with the result of just one seat declared so far.
11:57 am IST: BJP workers are jubilant all across the country, including Delhi.
11:40 am IST: The BJP leads are holding steady for the moment. However, another Independent candidate seems to have gone into the lead in a seat.
11:30 am IST: BJP workers are already celebrating the party's victory in HP.
11:20 am IST: The BJP wrests the lead in a seat.
11:15 am IST: The trends from three more seats are yet to come in, but the BJP is still in the front.
11:10 am IST: The Congress wins the first seat in Himachal. However, the BJP is the one projected to win the state.
11:05 am IST: Activists from the saffron party are already celebrating.
11 am IST: The BJP pulls ahead in one more seat. The see-saw over the overall lead is over, but the flip-flop if seat-wise leads continues.
10:55 am IST: The EC says the BJP has lost the lead in a seat.
10:45 am IST: The Congress takes lead in another constituency. Official trends of six more seats are yet to be announced.
10:42 am IST: Union Home Minister Rajmath Singh expresses hope that the BJP wilol come to power in both Gujarat and HP.
10:35 am IST: The official trends say the BJP is still in the front when it comes to leads. No announcement on any winners yet.
10:30 am IST: Meanwhile, Vijay Rupani continues to trail in the Sujanpur constituency, with the gap stretched to more than 1,700 votes.
10:25 am IST: And the flip-flop with that one seat continues. The Congress wrests the lead in a seat from the BJP this time.
10:22 am IST: The Congress is not exactly losing hope.
10:20 am IST: And the BJP pulls into the lead in a seat. It is now ahead in 36 seats.
10:15 am IST: The Congress has wrested the lead in one seat, but still has some way to go.
10:12 am IST: Whoa! The BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, is actually trailing!
10:10 am IST: The BJP now leads in 36 seats. If it wins all of them, it will equal its tally from the previous election.
10:05 am IST: Aaaand the official numbers say the BJP has touched the halfway mark in leads in Himachal, with trends yet to come in from nine more constituencies!
10 am IST: The BJP clearly has the higher vote share so far — nearly half of the total votes polled!
9:55 am IST: The EC trends are clearer now. The BJP is officially leading in 32 seats, which is three short of the halfway mark in the 68-member Assembly.
9:45 am IST: The Congress is closing the gap.
9:40 am IST: The official number show the BJP is extending its lead in HP.
Meanwhile, TV reports are saying the BJP is leading in 34 seats, the Congress in 20 and the CPM in a single seat.
9:35 am IST: The BJP is back in the lead with 22 seats as compared to the Congress' 14, according to the EC! However, these are still leads.
9:30 am IST: After a brief period when the BJP led, the official trends show that thew BJP and the Congress are neck and neck at 13 each when it comes to leads.
9:20 am IST: The EC continutes to put the BJP in the lead. Here are the official trends from 14 seats.
9:15 am IST: And suddenly, the EC numbers show the Congress is in the lead!
9:10 am IST: The first official trends from the Election Commission are coming in. The BJP is leading in two seats, while the Congress and the CPM are leading in one seat each.
9:05 am IST: BJP supporters perform "havan" in Uttar Pradesh for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
8:55 am IST: The BJP is holding on. It is leading in 33 seats, as compared to the Congress 10.
8:40 am IST: As the counting continues, a clearer picture begins to emerge. Meanwhile, two candidates with political affiliations other than to the BJP or the Congress — possibly Independents — seem to have taken the lead in two seats in the state.
8:30 am IST: The trends seem steady in the BJP's favour in Himachal Pradesh. The BJP is leading in 27 seats, while the Congress is leading in eight.
8:20 am IST: All eyes seem to be on Gujarat, where the BJP seems to have taken the lead in several seats, far ahead of the Congress.
8:10 am IST: Early trends show the BJP is in the lead in two seats.
8 am IST: As counting begins, Congress members perform "havan" for a win, invoking newly-elected party president Rahul Gandhi.
7:30 am IST: Preparations for counting are almost ready, despite the heavy winter chill.
7 am IST: The Election Commission of India will make trends and results from the counting available for us on its official website.
6 am IST: The exit polls may have painted a rosy picture for the BJP, but its own internal poll has not given it too much hope. According to that poll, the BJP would not win the 50+ seats it had been gunning for.
It remains to be seen if the BJP internal poll is proved wrong and the party is pleasantly surprised.