Rahul Gandhi (Left), Smriti Irani (Right)
The Lok Sabha election results are adding more salt to the Congress' wounds as party chief Rahul Gandhi is trailing to BJP's Smriti Irani by over 14,000 votes in the former's stronghold Amethi.
Amethi — one of the most keenly-watched contests in these elections — is a Congress bastion that has been represented by the Congress chief for three consecutive terms since 2004.
Before that, the seat was represented by other members of Nehru-Gandhi family including former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Irani had given Rahul a tough competition, before he won by a lower-than-expected margin of just over one lakh votes — a significant drop from the 2009 election where he won by 2.70 lakh votes.
In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP was leading in 57 of the 80 seats at stake. The SP was ahead in eight and BSP in 11. Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is much better than what many exit polls had forecast.
Meanwhile, the BJP-led NDA is leading on 349 seats -- 13 more than what it got in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Moreover, the BJP alone is leading on 301 seats while the Congress is left way behind with just 50 seats.
The trends of the ruling party's leads were in sync with the exit polls, most of which predicted that the NDA would be on course to retain power for a second term. In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009.