Election results: All eyes on Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh today

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi during the tribute paying ceremony for the martyrs of 2001 Parliament attack on its 16th anniversary, at Parliament House in New Delhi
The Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat election results are set to be announced today. Counting of votes will be held at 8 am for the Assembly polls, considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi. 

The Election Commission of India will announce the Assembly election results on

While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades.  The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on Gujarat 'model of development'. 

Modi led the campaign for the BJP, while Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the Congress' electioneering.

BJP, Cong both claim victory in Himachal Pradesh

In the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, both ruling Congress and opposition BJP are claiming victory. 

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who returned to Shimla after 18 days, dismissed the exit poll results, saying he could well read the mood of the people of the state and the actual results would be opposite to the exit poll projections. 

"I am confident that 'mission repeat' would be achieved and tall claims made by the BJP would be proved wrong," he told reporters. 

On the other hand, former chief minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal was highly optimistic and said the results would be same as projected in the exit polls.

EC withdraws notice to Rahul Gandhi over TV interviews

The Election Commission on Sunday withdrew notice to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his TV interviews during Gujarat polls, and said it will revisit a provision in the election law under which it was issued. 

The poll body had on December 13 issued the show cause notice to Rahul Gandhi for "prima facie" violating the provisions under the election law and the model code by giving interviews to TV channels. 

While withdrawing the notice, it told the Congress and the BJP, "The Commission is of the considered view that due to multi-fold expansion of digital and electronic media, the extant Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 of the RP Act, 1951, and other related provisions require revisiting to cater to the requirement and challenges of the present and emerging situations."

EVM criticism due to fear of defeat, says Nitish Kumar

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) have helped to make elections "transparent and impartial" and those criticising them were doing so out of the fear of defeat. 

Kumar's observation came a day before the counting of votes for the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh and in the backdrop of allegations of EVM tampering in Gujarat to favour the BJP. 

"Some may criticize the EVMs out of fear of defeat, but the EVMs have made elections transparent and impartial. Now, nobody can deprive anybody of the right to cast votes," Kumar, who has predicted a comfortable majority for the BJP in Gujarat, tweeted in Hindi.

BJP will win Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh polls: Ravishankar Prasad

Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad today asserted that the party will register comprehensive victories in the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. 

The law and justice, electronics and IT minister said voters have full faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during whose tenure the country has witnessed "all-round growth". 

"The people of Gujarat have not forgotten the economic progress and the excellent law and order that prevailed while Modi was the chief minister. The BJP is all set to retain power in the state with a comfortable majority," he told reporters.

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