Gujarat Assembly Polls: Trends Show BJP Headed for Victory, Inching Towards All-time High Record of 149 Seats
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
With the early trends in all 182 seats of the Gujarat Assembly coming in, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was seen inching towards an all-time high record of 149 seats.
As per the latest trends, the party was leading in 149 seats, the number of seats which the Congress had won in the 1985 election under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki, in what remains a record to date.
The BJP was all set for a sweeping victory for the eighth term in a state where it has not lost an election since 1995.
The Congress was ahead in 19 seats and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in nine, according to the first trends of all the seats in the state Assembly as reported by the Election Commission.
The others were leading in five seats, including a candidate of the Samajwadi Party in the Kutiyana seat of Porbandar district and four independents in Dhanera, Vaghodia, Santrampur and Deesa.
After registering initial gains, Congress and AAP slipped while the BJP continued to improve its tally to reach the tally of 149.
A number of sitting BJP MLAs were among those leading in the initial trends. Party leaders like Jitu Vaghani, Purnesh Modi, Kanubhai Desai and Hardik Patel were among those ahead of their rivals.
AAP's chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi was leading in Khambhalia. The party's candidates were also leading in Jamjodhpur, Dediapada, Dhari, Vyara, Botad, Bhiloda, Gariadhar and Limbayat.
AAP state chief Gopal Italia was trailing in the Katargam seat and Alpesh Kathiriya was trailing in Vthe arachha Road seat, both in Surat.
The BJP has so far received 53.62 vote share, Congress 26.57% and AAP 12.80%.
The results of the two-phase elections, held earlier this month, will be watched more for the performance of the Congress and the new poll entrant AAP, which seem to be locked in a battle to grab the status of the main opposition party in the state.
While the Congress was not expected to replicate its creditable performance of the last Assembly elections in 2017, a good showing by the AAP would have helped its leader Arvind Kejriwal cement his place as a key challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliamentary elections due in 2024
The Modi government is struggling with issues like rising inflation, slowing growth and joblessness, but economic troubles are unlikely to dent the BJP's popularity in Gujarat which has been a bastion of the party for decades and where Modi was the chief minister from 2001 to 2014.
Gujarat has 182 Assembly seats and the majority mark is 92. Exit polls have predicted the BJP will comfortably win a seventh straight term – an outcome that will equal the Left Front's feat in West Bengal/ For the Congress, its role as the main challenger to the BJP is at stake.
Thursday's results will reveal if the party's silent campaign has cut ice with people.
The party's campaign, mostly shouldered by local leaders, has leaned on door-to-door canvassing for votes as its leader Rahul Gandhi, who had aggressively campaigned in the 2017 elections, chose to stay away to focus on the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
For the AAP, which carried out a high-decibel campaign, the elections in Gujarat are an opportunity to establish itself as a pan-national party and a challenger to BJP at the national level. Emboldened by the victory in the Delhi municipal elections, the AAP hopes its politics of welfarism will be accepted by the people in Gujarat.
That said, the BJP has had to battle anti-incumbency after being in power for 25 years. It is banking on Modi's charisma and appeal to contain anti-incumbency. Modi addressed as many as 30 election rallies.
Unemployment, price rise, water not reaching certain pockets of the state, land acquisition for big projects and farmers not getting proper compensation for crop damage due to excess rains were among key issues of the campaign this time.
The voter turnout this time dropped 4% compared to 2017, signalling fatigue and possible disillusionment among some supporters of the BJP.
While the contest in Gujarat has traditionally been between the BJP and Congress, it turned three-cornered this time with the entry of the AAP.
Altogether 182 counting observers and as many election officers along with 494 assistant election officers will be on duty for the entire counting process, the official said.
A three-tier security system has been ensured at all the counting centres with local police and personnel of the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), the CEO said.
The fate of Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi, youth leaders Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, among a total of 1,621 candidates will be decided on Thursday.
A total of 70 political parties and 624 independents were in the fray.
Apart from the main rivals BJP, Congress and AAP, 101 candidates from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and 26 from the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) also contested.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, BJP won 99 seats and Congress 77 seats, while two seats went to BTP, one to NCP, and three to independents.
Ahead of this month's elections, the BJP's number in the House stood at 110 and Congress at 60 after 20 MLAs who won on Congress seats switched over to the BJP in the last five years, three of them quitting just ahead of the elections.
Independent candidate and BJP rebel Dharmendrasinh Vaghela was on Thursday leading over the party’s nominee Ashvin Patel in the Vaghodia Assembly constituency. Congress candidate Satyajitsinh Gaekwad was at the third spot after seven rounds, followed by six-term MLA Madhu Shrivastav.
Firebrand Dalit leader and Vadgam’s sitting MLA Jignesh Mevani of the Congress party was trailing his nearest rival from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, early trends showed.
After four rounds of voting, Mevani had polled 15,455 votes, trailing BJP’s Manibhai Vaghela by 3,361 votes. If the trend persists, it would be a major setback to the Congress party as Mevani has emerged as one of its most prominent leaders in the state after formally joining the party earlier this year.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Thursday headed for a second straight win from the urban constituency of Ghatlodia, where he had taken a comfortable lead of almost 20,000 votes over his nearest rival after five rounds of vote counting.
As per the latest update from the Election Commission, Patel had polled 23,713 votes, compared to 3,840 votes polled by his Congress rival Amiben Yagnik. AAP candidate Vijay Patel was running third with 2,168 votes.
Congress leader Paresh Dhanani, who has won the Patidar-dominated Amreli Assembly constituency in three elections, on Thursday appeared headed for a shock defeat as early trends showed he was trailing his rival from the BJP by more than 5,600 votes.
BJP’s Kaushik Vekariya, who heads the party’s district unit, had polled 13,322 votes at the end of four rounds of counting of votes. The corresponding figure for Dhanani was 7,638, while the AAP’s candidate, Ravi Dhanani had polled 6,000, according to data from the Election Commission.
The early trends underscored how the AAP’s entry into Gujarat’s poll arena was hurting Congress. The Congress party had swept all five seats in the Amreli district in 2017 and the impressive score had catapulted Dhanani to become the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly following the elections.
Just over a month after a bridge collapse claimed 135 lives, BJP’s Kantilal Amrutiya on Thursday appeared on course to win from the Morbi Assembly seat in Gujarat, taking an unassailable lead of over 16,000 votes over Congress rival Jaynatilal Patel.
Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate Pankaj Ransariya was in the third spot with over 6,000 votes.
After the end of the ninth round of counting of votes for the Morbi seat of Saurashtra region, Amtrutiya had polled more than 37,500 votes while Patel got more than 20,000 votes.
BJP candidate C K Raulji was leading over his Congress rival Rashmitaben Chauhan after eight rounds of counting of votes in Godhra Assembly seat of Gujarat.
Raulji was ahead by more than 25,000 votes over Chauhan in the communally-sensitive Assembly seat of Godhra, where the burning of a train had triggered one of India’s worst post-Partition riots 20 years back.
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