The BJP was set to sweep back to power in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday after 15 long years, with the party now leading in over 300 of the state's 403 seats.
Proving wrong fears of a hung assembly, the saffron party under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has bagged its biggest victory after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The imminent victory triggered widespread celebration in the state with several BJP supporters thronged all major cities of the state.
Addressing the party workers at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, the party chief Amit Shah termed the victory a 'historic mandate'.
He said the BJP will form the government in four states and the results will give a new direction to the country's politics.
According to BJP sources, Modi will address party workers later the day. The party is leading in 327 seats, while it needs only 202 seats to form government.
The BJP is also set to sweep Uttarakhand, while Punjab gave a consolatory win for Congress.
The ruling Samajwadi Party,meanwhile, has accepted the defeat and the CM Akhilesh Yadav may resign today evening.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and central Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called the win in UP bigger than the 2014 victory.
“It is a tectonic shift in Indian politics. UP is a laboratory of India. Demonetisation has worked and we are proud of Modi’s leadership. It is a bigger victory than the 2014 win in the Lok Sabha electionRavi Shankar Prasad, Central Law Minister
The election results are bound to influence national politics and is considered to be the semi final before the final battle of 2019. A win will give the BJP a significant number of seats in the Rajya Sabha, where it is still in the minority.
BJP workers have started celebrations in various parts of the state.
BJP’s parliamentary board is expected to meet later Saturday, to review the results and discuss who could be appointed the next chief minister. According to reports, senior BJP leaders either KP Maurya or Manoj Sinha will be appointed as the CM.
Responding to the trends, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said the people of Uttar Pradesh rejected the SP-Congress combine and called it a “vote for development”.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said, “We respect the mandate, but development has lost and vote-bank politics has won.”
BSP chief Mayawati said it was a “shocking result” and alleged that the voting machines were tampered.
“The BJP has won even in Muslim areas... Voting machines were tampered with... It’s a shocking result in UP... I openly challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to write the Election Commission and ask for a review of the voting process and machines,” Mayawati said.
She request the Election Commission to “suspend the UP and Uttarakhand assembly election results and get a foreign investigative team to probe the voting machines.”
The victory will be considered as a boost for BJP president Amit Shah’s authority as capturing power in Uttar Pradesh has been a dream project for the party after it was reduced to the margins of the state politics that it ruled for much of the 1990s.
Counting started at 8 am.
According to data provided by the Election Commission officials, counting took place at 157 centres—UP (75), Punjab (53), Goa (2), Uttarakhand (15) and Manipur (12).
Polling was held in seven phases from 11 February to 8 March, with a voter turnout of around 60 percent. The BJP fielded candidates in 384 constituencies, the Samajwadi Party in 298, its ally the Congress in 105, and the Bahujan Samaj Party in all 403.
In the 2014 general elections, however, the BJP captured Uttar Pradesh, winning 71 of the 80 parliamentary seats.
In 2012, the SP had swept to power defeating incumbent chief minister BSP which had got an absolute majority in the previous elections. SP had won 224 seats of the 401 it contested, garnering a vote share of 29.15 percent with an upswing of 3.72 percent over the last elections. The BSP had got 80 seats with a 25.91 percent vote share. The BJP managed 47 seats with 15 percent vote share, while the Congress got 28 seats with 11.63 percent.