BJP retains grip in Guj, Cong bites the dust

BJP retains grip in Guj, Cong bites the dust

The ruling BJP in Gujarat can rejoice. Its top local leadership managed to hold its appeal with the electorate in the state, unlike the Congress where a majority of its local leadership was decimated.

Leading the BJP pack is its Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who retained his Rajkot (West) seat against the richest candidate in the fray and Congressman Indranil Rajyaguru by 53,755 votes. Rajkot (West) has been a traditional saffron bastion, with Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala winning from this seat seven times.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who was fighting in his home turf Mehsana, too, defeated his Congress rival Jivabhai Patel by 7,951 votes. Considering that this is the home town of Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel, Nitin Patel was expected to face a stiff challenge.

The third big leader and state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani, too, sailed home by retaining his Bhavnagar (West) seat against Congress rival Dilipsinh Gohel. Vaghani defeated his rival by 27,185 votes.

Among its senior ministers, revenue and education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama won by just 327 votes in Dholka, while home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja trounced Congress rival Bipin Patel by 62,380 votes. Jadeja polled 1,31,133 votes. Former energy minister in Anandiben Patel government Saurabh Patel won from Botad constituency by 906 votes. Saurabh had changed his seat from Akota in Vadodara to his former constituency Botad.

Big jolts

Not everything was hunky dory with the ruling party. One of the biggest jolts came with its health minister, cooperative leader and chief ministerial aspirant Shankar Chaudhari losing from Vav constituency to Congress rival Geniben Thakor by about 6,655 votes.

Assembly Speaker Ramanlal Vora, who moved from Idar to Dasada (SC) seat lost to his Congress rival Naushadhji Solanki by a margin of 3,728 votes. Here too, NOTA played a crucial role, with 3,057 electors opting for no candidates.

Another senior leader, Jaynarayan Vyas lost from Sidhpur to Chandanji Thakor of Congress by 17,260 votes. He had got the seat after Balwantsinh Rajput of Congress moved to BJP. Balwantsinh had defeated Vyas in 2012.

Dilip Sanghani, a close confidante of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for whom the PM even held a rally in the region, again failed to make it in Dhari, losing to J V Kakadiya of Congress by over 15,336 votes.

Narayan Lallu Patel, the Patel strongman and 77-year-old veteran for whom the BJP bent its rule to be fielded as a candidate from Unjha, lost to Congress competitor Ashaben Patel by 19,529 votes. Even former home minister Rajni Patel, whose office was burnt in Viramgam during the Patel quota stir, lost to Bharat Thakor by 15,811 votes.

Turncoat Congressmen

The situation was equally bad for turncoat politicians from the Congress. Four of the six legislators who had bagged BJP tickets lost at the hustings. Tejashree Patel lost from Viramgam by over 6,500 votes to Lakhabhai Bharwad; Mansinh Chauhan from Balasinor; cooperative giant and chairman of Amul Ramsinh Parmar from his traditional Thasra seat and Raghavji Patel from Jamnagar (Rural).

Local leaders bite dust

The hustings may have been better for the Congress, but all its major local leadership bite the dust. Shaktisinh Gohel, one of its tallest leaders, lost from Mandvi in Kutch. He had shifted his seat from Abdasa in the byelection after losing in Bhavnagar (West). He lost to BJP's Virendrasinh Jadeja with a margin of over 9,000 votes.

Another top Congressman Arjun Modhvadia lost to Babu Bokhiria in Porbandar by about 1,855 votes. This is the second time in a row that he has lost to Bokhiria. Modhvadia bagged 70,575 votes, compared to 72,430 votes by his BJP rival. Interestingly, the BSP candidate bagged 4,337 votes, whereas NOTA got 3,433 votes. Independents and others got around 3,000 votes in Porbandar.

Siddharth Patel, the third chief ministerial aspirant and son of former Gujarat chief minister Chimanbhai Patel, lost from Dabhoi by 2,839 votes, losing to BJP candidate Saileshbhai Mehta.

Tushar Chaudhary, son of a former Congress chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary, lost from Mahuva (ST) by 6,433 votes to BJP's Mohanbhai Dhodiya. Tushar had even changed his constituency from Vyara, but failed to convince the electorate.

The lawyer of Patels during the agitation, Babu Mangukia, too, lost from Thakkar Bapanagar in Ahmedabad against Vallabh Kakadia by 34,088 votes.  

Consolation for Cong

The only winners for the Congress have been its sate party co-president, in-charge for Saurashtra region and chief ministerial aspirant Paresh Dhanani. He won from his Amreli constituency by over 12,000 votes against BJP strongman Bavku Undhad.

Alpesh Thakor, the OBC youth leader who mobilised his community as a hedge against Patel quota stir rose in the state, won from his Radhanpur constituency by over 14,857 against BJP strongman Lavingji Thakor.

The other interesting win by Congress was in Jamalpur-Khadia constituency in Ahmedabad. The BJP has been winning this seat since 1990s. Congress candidate Imran Khedwala trounced sitting legislator Bhushan Bhatt.

Punjabhai Vansh of the Congress also won from Una constituency, the place where dalit youths were beaten up by self-styled cow protectors.

The others

Tribal strongman Chhotubhai Vasava retained his Jhagadia seat by 48,948 votes over his nearest BJP rival Ravjibhai Vasava. JD(U) candidate Chhotubhai A Vasava could secure only 5,055 votes, lower than NOTA that bagged 5,364 votes.

Nationalist Congress Party member Kandhal Jadeja retained his Kutiyana seat by a margin of around 24,000 votes over his BJP rival.

The third independent and young dalit leader Jignesh Mevani won from Vadgam.

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