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Keshubhai's party dented BJP prospects in Saurashtra

Ahmedabad, Dec 21, 2012, (PTI)

Ruling BJP's march towards a two-third majority was halted by the presence of Keshubhai Patel's party in Saurashtra and the saffron outfit suffered reverses in Chief Minister Narendra Modi's own backyard of north Gujarat.

However, BJP's gain in the central and south Gujarat regions, to a large extent, trimmed the losses. BJP's seat tally by and large remained the same this time though its vote percentage reduced by about 1 per cent, while that of the Congress increased by the same proportion.

BJP bagged 115 seats this time, two less than the 2007 figure, but failed to touch the two-third majority mark of 122 in the 182-member Assembly. Its main rival Congress won two more seats to finish at 61.

Congress vote share rose from 38 per cent in 2007 to 39 per cent, but it translated into a gain of just two seats. The ruling party's vote share reduced from 49 per cent last time to 48 per cent in 2012.

Gujarat had witnessed a record turnout of 71.30 per cent in the two-phased polling held on December 13 and 17. The voter turnout was 59 per cent in 2007. Though Keshubhai-led Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) performed poorly, getting just two seats, it managed to upset BJP's applecart in a number of seats in Saurashtra, resulting in a modest performance by Modi's party in a region which is considered a stronghold of the former CM and BJP rebel.

In Saurashtra and Kutch, which accounted for 58 seats in 2007, BJP had won 43, Congress 14 and one went to Sharad Pawar-led NCP. In 2012, BJP managed to get just 35 seats followed by Congress (16), GPP (2) and NCP (1), among others. Post delimitation the number of seats in the two regions had come down to 56.

The loss to BJP in Saurashtra and Kutch can be largely attributed to the presence of GPP candidates, who cut into the votes of the ruling party in key seats.

In Rajkot East, Congress candidate Indranil Rajyaguru won by 4,000 votes as GPP's Pravin Ambaliya polled 20,000 votes, mostly of Leuva Patels, a politically powerful community in Saurashtra. The division of votes led to the defeat of BJP nominee Kashyap Shukla.

This was the case in at least six to eight segments due to which BJP's tally came down in Saurashtra. North Gujarat, from where Modi hails, also witnessed a slip in performance by BJP. In 2007, it had got 25 seats out of a total of 32, but this year the figure went down to 16.

Congress, which had got seven seats in 2007, improved its tally to 16 this time. BJP's less than encouraging show in north Gujarat has surprised poll watchers as the Modi Government had claimed to have carried out maximum development work in the region and the BJP stalwart had based his campaign around the theme of development.
Modi's hometown Vadnagar falls in north Gujarat's Mehasana district.

However, south and central regions of the state came to the rescue of BJP and ensured the party retained its hold on Gujarat, where it is in power since 1995.

In south Gujarat, BJP won 28 seats this time as compared to 19 in 2007, a gain of nine. Congress slipped from 14 to six in 2012 in the region which has 35 seats. Similarly, in central Gujarat, including the Ahmedabad city, BJP improved its tally from 30 to 36 largely due to increase in number of seats in the area, from 57 in 2007 to 61 now, after delimitation.

Congress cornered 23 seats, just one less than its 2007 tally. Others pocketed two seats this time as compared to three in 2007. Incidentally, BJP lost elections in Sanand, the site of Tata Motors Nano car plant, and Viramgam, where Maruti Suzuki proposes to set up its manufacturing facility, to Congress.

Sanand, an automobile hub in Ahmedabad district, is the symbol of the state's aggressive push towards industrialisation under Modi.


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