The BJP secured today a stunning victory in Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, trampling a fragmented Opposition to secure the biggest mandate any party has ever received in the state, as party leaders hailed it as a vindication of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and his "pro-poor" policies.
The BJP returned to power in Uttar Pradesh - possibly with a three-quarter majority - after 14 years, during which regional players including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, held sway.
According to the results available by 6 pm, the BJP-plus had won 284 seats in the 403-member Assembly, and was leading in at least 28 more.
Here's all you need to know:
- The previous best showing by the BJP in UP was in 1991, at the height of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid movement, when it got majority on its own, winning 221 of 425 seats in an undivided state.
- The BJP, which had just 47 seats in the outgoing Assembly, garnered 40 per cent of the votes in the most riveting contest seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Modi's demonetisation move.
- The saffron party also went to the Uttar Pradesh election without fielding any Muslim candidate. The campaign in its advanced stage had also seen the BJP trying to communalise the contest.
- The BJP had not announced a chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh. At a press conference today, Amit Shah said the name will be selected tomorrow by the BJP Parliamentary Board and the legislature party in the state.
- BJP president Amit Shah attributed the historic success to Modi, calling him the tallest Indian leader since independence.
- In the three-cornered contest in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party-Congress combine was reduced to a lead in 55 seats.
- In Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency Amethi, the Congress lost all four seats, with the BJP winning three of them.
- Three-term Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) finished a dismal third at 19 seats. She has accused the government of tampering with the EVMs and has challenged the holding of a paper ballot election.
- The scale of the BJP's victory suggests Modi's appeal cut across caste and community in a state where most people traditionally vote along religious and social lines.
- Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah called the BJP victory in UP a "tsunami" and predicted that the party is not only in a position to win 2019 general election, but also 2024.