Ahemdabad: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) forged ahead on Thursday in Gujarat as officials counted millions of votes, with supporters at BJP office in Ahmedabad carrying postcards saying, 'This is a trailer, see film in 2014'.
Confident of a big win in the elections, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said that his party would celebrate a bigger Diwali on December 20. "This time we will celebrate Diwali twice, one the traditional Diwali and second to celebrate the victory of democracy. On December 20, we will celebrate Diwali in such a grand way that nobody would have celebrated before in the state," Modi had claimed.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates were leading over their rivals in 97 of the 152 constituencies where trends were available within 90 minutes after the vote count started at 8 am.
The Congress, which had been hoping to unseat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was ahead in 52 of the total 182 seats.
The Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) of former BJP chief minister Keshubhai Patel appeared to be on the winning track in three places.
"There is every indication that the BJP is coming back to power in Gujarat," asserted party spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman.
No result had been declared yet, the officials said.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi was set to win in Maninagar, his home constituency, the officials said.
Before the vote count started across the state at 8 am, Modi confidant Amit Shah had asserted that the BJP was sure to bag a two-thirds majority in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly.
The GPP said the Congress should have allied with it.
GPP leader Gordhan Zadaphia said a GPP-Congress alliance could have ousted Modi, who has ruled Gujarat since 2001 and who tweeted on Thursday in the run up to the vote count: "No need to look behind."
Gujarat Congress leader Ameeben Yagnik admitted: "We will have to work harder in Gujarat."
The BJP won 117 seats in 2007. Exit polls have predicted a massive win for the BJP in Gujarat.
Political pundits have said that a widely predicted Modi win -- the third time he would be taking the BJP to victory in Gujarat -- could have him playing a larger role in national politics.
(With IANS inputs)
First Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012, 10:40