Gujarat Assembly Election Results: Major English dailies note BJP victory, but see verdict as morale boost for Congress
The Assembly elections was the subject of much media speculation but the big dailies had to wait till Tuesday to have their say on the results.
With the eyes of the entire nation on the Gujarat Assembly Election, the BJP pulled out a narrow victory over a resurgent Congress. In the end, the party achieved a simple majority in the state Assembly on Monday, grabbing a sixth straight term in office while preventing Congress of making a comeback in the state. The BJP clinched 99 seats out of 182, while the Congress improved its tally as compared to five years ago, winning 77 seats. Smaller parties and Independent candidates clinched six seats.
The election was the subject of much media speculation and every outlet worth its salt came out with its analysis and coverage of it as soon as it could. The big dailies however had to wait till Tuesday to have their say on the results.
The largest English daily, The Times of India ran with BJP hits 6, but stalls at 99 in Guj. Under a Team TOI byline, the article laid out the results noting that the win left BJP one short of the Left's seven-term record in West Bengal. It however gave prominent space to the Congress' surge and the efforts made by its president Rahul Gandhi and this temple runs. Himachal Pradesh too received coverage but it was clear that the Gujarat election was the big one. Interesting, both the chief ministerial candidates in Himachal Pradesh managed to land up in the "Losers" column in the paper.
The other major newspaper, Hindustan Times, opted for Gujarat is still Modi's as their headline. Following a similar pattern, the top fold was dominated by the Gujarat election and Rahul's impressive performance. The Himachal election was relegated to the bottom fold as the paper asserted that "the hills are now saffron"
The Indian Express — operating without the full-page ad that The Times of India and Hindustan Times placed before their coverage — started with "Modi's December Spring". Starting with the BJP's victory along with the customary beaming Modi image, it noted that Rahul and the Opposition would certainly gain hope from the result which was surprisingly close. Opting for a breakdown of the Gujarat election for the first page, the paper pushed the Himachal election to the inside pages.
The Hindu was practically minimalist in its front page coverage of Gujarat election. Under a headline of BJP holds Gujarat, wrest Himachal from Cong., the paper put Amit Shah front and centre with Modi's image surprisingly missing from the first page. It bucked the trend and put the Himachal election in the top fold noting that the BJP's chief ministerial candidate had lost the election. There was no election coverage on the bottom fold except a few quotes from regional political leaders like Mamata Banerjee and Omar Abdullah.
DNA led with a section on What the verdicts mean at the top of the page before asserting Modi saves BJP in Gujarat. The main article talked about both the elections and the quotes from major leaders like Modi, Shah and Gandhi were part of the coverage. The customary winners and losers infographic found its way on the front page as well.
Mint only had half its front page available for editorial content and its headline read Modi-led BJP juggernaut rolls on. Covering most angles of the two elections, it too saw Congress' performance as a morale booster for the party.
Among the pink papers, The Economic Times laid out the economic impact of the elections under the headline Modi rules home and hills. It noted the effect on the stock market which went down and up depending on the trends the elections threw up.
Finally, Business Standard too ran with something similar with an emphasis on Congress' performance. It led with BJP wins, but Cong doesn't lose as it laid down the two elections and the effect it had on the markets on Monday.
The major papers then clearly had similar views on the election. All of them recognised the BJP's win in both states but were careful to point out that the Congress' progress was significant. All of them recognised Modi's contribution to the result and had either him alone or with Amit Shah on the front page. Only The Hindu bucked this trend and put Shah alone on the front page. Nearly all the papers carried infographics in their coverage and a list of winners and losers was fairly standard too.
As expected, Himachal got the short shrift as the Gujarat election was the one everyone was looking at. However Dhumal's loss gave an interesting twist to the election which was duly lapped up by the newspapers.
With inputs from agencies
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