Six Assembly seats from Gujarat will go to polls on 21 October along with over 60 Assembly seats spread across 18 states. Earlier the Election Commission had only declared bypolls in four Assembly seats from the state, and later added two more to the total.
Four of the six seats were vacated by MLAs who won the 2019 general elections and moved on to the Lok Sabha, where as the remaining two were vacated by former Congress leaders who defected to the BJP.
The trends are clear that all six seats are likely to be gobbled up by the saffron party, which continues to ride high after sweeping the Lok Sabha elections convincingly. The Congress still seems to be picking up the pieces.
The Congress was thoroughly routed during the general elections held earlier this year, including in Gujarat where the BJP clinched all 26 seats.
The political capital earned two years ago during the 2017 Assembly elections has been squandered and according to political analyst Hemant Kumar Shah, the Congress party workers at ground level are absolutely demotivated.
“The drubbing at the hands of the BJP has destroyed the Congress workers’ morale. To top it off they are running headless albeit they have appointed Sonia Gandhi as interim president of the INC. This will be a cakewalk for the BJP, since they are selling national security and the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A like hot cakes. In a post truth world, economic hardships and unemployment are immaterial.”
According Shah, Alpesh Thakor, who defected from the Congress to the BJP, may get the party ticket and comfortably win the bypoll in Radhanpur.
“Why will the voter vote for Congress when the party has a history of defectors, changing allegiances to garner more power. If the elected MLA will eventually join BJP, wouldn’t it make sense to vote for BJP straightaway,” Shah said.
Over the last 12 months, seven MLAs have quit the party and joined the BJP.
The Gujarat Assembly has 182 seats of which 100 are with the BJP, 69 with the Congress, two with the Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), one with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and one independent candidate. This leaves 9 seats vacant, of which six will go to polls on 21 October.
The first four seats that were declared by the Election Commission are Amraiwadi, Kheralu, Lunawada and Tharad. BJP MLA from Amraiwadi, Hasmukh Patel, had replaced Paresh Rawal as the candidate for the Ahmedabad East Lok Sabha seat and won with a margin of 3.26 lakh votes.
Kheralu MLA, Bharatsinh Dabhi won the Patan Lok Sabha Seat by 1.94 lakh votes, whereas Lunwada MLA Ratansinh Rathod won the Panchmahals LS seat with a margin of 4.14 lakh votes. The irrigation and water supply minister of Gujarat Prabhat Patel, who is an MLA from Tharad, won the Banaskantha seat with a margin of 3.68 lakh votes.
The last two seats that were added by the EC are Radhanpur and Bayad which were won by Congressmen Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zhala during the 2017 Assembly elections.
Differences cropped up between Alpesh and the Congress as the former became quite ambitious and quit all party positions. He and Dhavalsinh continued as MLAs till the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections where they voted for the BJP candidates – External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Jugal Thakor – and immediately vacated the seats.
The remaining three seats – Morva Hadaf, Dwarka and Talala – although vacant, are caught up in litigation. Bhupendrasinh Khant, MLA from Morva Hadaf, a seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes, was disqualified for possessing an invalid caste certificate.
MLAs of Dwarka and Talala Assembly seats were also disqualified after they were convicted in criminal cases, but the matter of their disqualification is under litigation.
The results of the bypolls will be declared on 24 October.