The Hush Post: The BJP has finally managed to scrap through with just nine more than the half-way mark winning 99 out of 182 seats and retain its electoral bastion Gujarat, where it expected a big win. Its good news for Congress though which has won 80 seats up from 61 last time giving a tough fight to the BJP, whereas BJP has gone 16 down. This will be the sixth straight term for the BJP in the state. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won with a margin of more than 54,000 votes in Rajkot West, while Deputy CM Nitin Patel emerged victorious in Mehsana. Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani has won his maiden election from Vadgam constituency, where he contested as an Independent with support from the Congress. Jignesh’s rival Lavingji Thakor was in the Congress earlier but joined the BJP after he was denied a ticket by the Congress. Another backward caste leader Alpesh Thakor, has won Radhanpur, one of the largest constituencies in Gujarat. The Congress recruited him ahead of the polls to try and win the support of the state’s 30 per cent OBCs or Other Backward Castes. During campaigning, Thakor was the one who had taken pot shots at the Prime Minister for his glowing skin due to mushrooms imported from Taiwan every day. Thakor, 40, was trailing initially but picked up soon. Hardik Patel is the only one of the troika who didn’t contest, at 24 he is not eligible to do so.
The elections have catapulted young leaders in the state — Jignesh Mevani, Alpesh Thakor and Hardik Patel — from social activism to politics. In about one-third of the total Assembly constituencies in Gujarat, the BJP has lost the lead it had registered in 2014. Urban Gujarat has stayed with the BJP, the Congress probably lost more backward caste votes than the Patidar votes. It seems to have gained from its promise to create a quota for this socially and economically dominant caste. No one has really triumphed in Gujarat, the BJP’s win falls far short of its expectations of getting 150 seats and the Congress loss has to make do with hope rather than of defeat.
Over 2,000 candidates were in the fray for the 182 seats. Later, the Assembly will get one nominated member, making the total strength 183. An average 68.41 per cent polling had been recorded in the two-phase polls.