Opinion: Why was BJP defeated in these key Gujarat constituencies

PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah celebrate election victory. Photograph:( WION )

Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Dec 19, 2017, 11.13 AM (IST)

The BJP successfully pulled off the Gujarat election. But the Congress put up a most valiant fight, particularly in ten constituencies where the Grand Old Party gave a shock to BJP.

In the defeat of BJP in these constituencies, few factors, such as the Patidar movement, Jignesh-Hardik-Alpesh trio and anti-incumbency played a very crucial role. In fact, the Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel won by a close margin.

BJP performed poorly in the rural and tribal areas.

Losing these important seats means, BJP needs to closely analyse the factors behind its defeat before proceeding to the general election in 2019.

In the Gujarat assembly elections 2017, the Radhanpur seat was claimed by the Indian National Congress (INC). Its candidate Alpesh Khodaji Thakor won 85777 votes. On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, Lavingji Muljiji Thakor Solanki managed to win only 70920 votes.

In 2012, the BJP’s Nagarji Harchandji Thakor won 69493 votes to secure the seat but lost to Alpesh Thakor of Indian National Congress. So, the Patidar factor completely played out against the BJP in this constituency.

Ever since the Una incident and other instances of atrocities against the Dalit, the community has been turning against the ruling party in Gujarat. Their cause has been most vociferously argued by the Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani. Mevani contested the election from the Vadgam constituency in Gujarat. He defeated BJP's nominee Vijay Chakravarti by 19,696 votes.

Mevani, who contested as an independent candidate with the support of the Congress, polled 95,497 votes on the seat reserved for a Schedule Caste nominee where Vijay Chakravarti got 75,801 votes. This is indeed a massive victory for Mevani and an indication how dissatisfaction is growing fast among the Dalits.

The Patan constituency was claimed by the Congress’ Kiritkumar Chimanlal Patel. Patel factor was highly influential in this region and that helped Congress party to get a hold on this constituency.

Patel managed to win 103273 votes, defeating BJP’s Ranchhodbhai Mahijibhai Desai, who could secure only 77994 votes.

In 2012, Congress candidate Jodhaji Galabji Thakor lost the seat to BJP’s Ranchhodbhai Mahijibhai Desai who won the seat with 67224 votes.

Since 1990, BJP has been winning the Junagadh constituency. However, the 2017 election has caused a major set back for the ruling party. Mashru Mahendrabhai Liladharbhai, a very powerful BJP politician lost the election due to the Patidars turning against the BJP.

This constituency is in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Junagadh constituency recorded a voter turnout of 59.53 per cent in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections. 

Shankar Choudhary, a Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education, Environment and Urban Development lost the seat of Vav constituency to an emerging politician, Thakor Geniben Nagaji.

Alpesh Thakore made Geniben Nagaji to contest the election from Vav constituency and took away this important seat from BJP. Also, the condition of Vav district was very poor at the time of floods. Shankar Choudhary was not able to control the situation which was one of the reasons for his defeat.

Congress candidate Asha Patel has won the Unjha seat by over 19,000 votes. It comes under Vadnagar district which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's hometown. 

Sitting BJP MLA Narayan Patel lost to Congress. The Patidar wave was very strong in the region. At least 40 per cent of the population in Unjha is from the Patidar community and the anger against the BJP is visible.

The constituency of Jamalpur - Khadia belonged to the BJP but Imran Yusufbhai Khedawala of Congress won by a margin of 29339 votes. This constituency was very important for BJP, but now BJP's citadel has fallen in that region. BJP’s late Ashok Bhatt had been winning this seat since 1975. His son Bhushan Bhatt tried to continue the legacy but he failed. The failure primarily stemmed from grievances related to local issues.

BJP had a strong hold on Morbi but Congress managed to snatch it. Patidar movement played an important factor in this region and the Patidar influence was visible in the results.

Brijesh Merja of INC defeated Amrutiya Kantilal Shivlal of BJP by a margin of 3419.

In Dhari district, J V Kakadiya of Indian National Congress won the election and defeated Dilip Sanghani. The defeat was definitely a shock for BJP, as Dilip Sanghani is considered as a big name, a heavyweight for BJP. Here the Patidar factor again played a crucial role in BJP's defeat.

Jai Narayan Vyas from Sidhpur district lost to Thakor Chandanjii Talaji of Congress. The BJP candidate Jaynarayan Vyas was defeated, for the second time, after 2012, as he could secure only 71008 votes. Here Alpesh Thakore played a crucial role in mobilising the Thakore community against BJP.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL).