Seven Reasons Why the BJP Has No Reason to Celebrate Its Victory
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thumped its chest after retaining Gujarat for the sixth time in a row. But as the numbers show, even with a victory, there’s more cause for the BJP to be alarmed than to celebrate its narrow win.
1. Only 7 Seats More Than Minimum Requirement
Speaking at an event held in Gandhinagar, four months before the election, Amit Shah boastfully said:
But the BJP was left red-faced having secured 99 seats – 51 seats short of fulfilling its ‘Mission 150’ in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf, Gujarat.
The BJP, which had won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in the 2014 general elections got 16 seats lesser than what it had secured in the 2012 state assembly polls. Far from 150, the party won a small victory with only seven seats more than the minimum required to form a government.
2. BJP Loses Support in Saurashtra and How
The Congress doubled its tally from what it was 2012, in the Saurashtra region after getting its hand on 30 out of 54 seats. The Opposition held sway in BJP’s bastion in the Saurashtra region which has the highest number of legislators.
The BJP completely missed out on all 12 seats in the districts of Morbi, Junagadh, Amreli Gir Somnath, and Surendranagar, The Hindu reported.
The Congress also fared impressively in certain districts of North Gujarat.
Even after a handful of rallies in Saurastra which sends the high number of legislators (54), the BJP scored a paltry 23 seats.
The Patidar agitation did its bit to weaken BJP’s support. Moreover, the party faced a tough challenge in the form of OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, both of whom had the taste of their first victories.
3. Nail-Biting Finish
Twenty six seats were won by a vote margin that was less than 3,000 votes. The BJP won 16 seats while the Congress wrested 11.
In seats like Dholka and Fatepura, smaller parties like NCP and BSP ate into the crucial votes which some described as snatching of near-certain victories from the Congress. The assembly seats to have seen a photo-finish included Himatnagar, Porbandar, Vijapur, Deodar, Dangs, Mansa and Godhra.
However, there were at least eight seats, where Congress candidates trailed their nearest rivals by less than 2,000 votes, including in Godhra where BJPs CK Raulji won by just 258 votes.
Congress’ Jitubhai Harjibhai Chaudhary managed to secure a victory in predominantly tribal district, Kaprada, by a mere 170 votes. He won 93,000 votes while his opponent BJP’s Madhubhai Bapubhai Raut secured 92,830 votes.
4. Losing Modi’s Hometown Vadnagar
Despite the win, a shocking loss for the BJP was the Congress making inroads to PM Modi’s hometown — Vadnagar.
Vadnagar is divided into two constituencies — Kheralu and Modi's home district Unjha.
Although BJP won in Kheralu, Asha Patel from the Congress broke the BJP spell and won by a margin of around 19,000 votes in Unjha, defeating BJP's five-time MLA Narayan Patel. In fact, in 2012, Narayan Patel had defeated Asha Patel by nearly 25,000 votes.
5. Rural Voters Choose Congress
Although the urban areas of Gujarat helped the BJP manage a sixth consecutive victory, the fall in rural votes limited its win.
The discontentment among the rural population was visible with the Congress managing 49 percent of the rural vote share, while the BJP got 43 percent.
In 2012, the Congress had won 57 seats in the rural areas, while the BJP got 77 seats. This year the Congress’ tally went up by 14 seats after it won 71 seats. On the other hand, the BJP's tally from the region was reduced from 77 in 2012 to 63, a drop of 14 seats.
However, the urban votes were still it support of the BJP. Out of the total 42 urban seats in Gujarat, the BJP won 36, while six went to the Congress. In 2012, the BJP had secured 38 seats while the Congress managed only four.
The fall in votes for the BJP have largely to do with demonetisation, discontentment with GST among small traders, farmer’s distress and Patidar agitation.
6. When Congress and BJP Literally Exchanged Seats
An Indian Express report said that 49 seats changed hands between the BJP and the Congress.
The Congress won 33 of the 49 seats, with an average victory margin of 12,033 votes, that were with the BJP since 2012 Assembly polls. Sixteen were taken over by the saffron party that were previously under the Congress.
7. Going the NOTA Way
NOTA option debuted in Gujarat state assembly election this year and over 5.51 lakh voters exercised this option over either ruling BJP or the Opposition indicating a frustration with the ways of the government.
Another Indian Express report said that in at least 30 seats, votes polled by NOTA were more than the winning margin. Citing Dholka constituency as an example, BJP’s Bhupendra Chudasma won by 327 votes while NOTA got 2,347 votes. In Chhota Udepur, Congress leader Mohansinh Rathwa secured the seat with a margin of 1,093 votes while NOTA got 5,870 votes.