AHMEDABAD: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday crossed the majority mark in Gujarat by bagging 120 of 139 Assembly seats whose results have been declared so far and appeared on track for a historic victory as it led in 36 other constituencies.
In the 182-member state Assembly, the simple majority mark is 92.
The Congress, on the other hand, was poised for its worst-ever performance in the state as it has won on 11 seats and was leading on just 6 others.
New entrant Aam Aadmi party (AAP) has won four Assembly seats so far and was leading on one.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel defeated his nearest rival Amee Yagnik of the Congress in the Ghatlodia seat in Ahmedabad city by a record margin of 1.92 lakh votes.
Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia won from Porbandar, while the party’s tribal leader Anant Patel emerged victorious in Vansda in Navsari district.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s CM face Isudan Gadhvi lost the election from the Khambhalia seat.
The BJP has so far received 52.50 per cent of the votes counted, while the Congress was at distant second at 27.29 per cent vote share followed by the AAP at 12.91 per cent.
If the current trends continue, the BJP would not only beat its best showing till date — 127 seats in 2002 – but also surpass the all-time record set by the Congress in 1985, when it won 149 seats under the leadership of late Madhavsinh Solanki.
In winning for a seventh term, the party would also equal the Left Front’s feat in West Bengal.
The BJP has not lost an election in Gujarat since 1995. Thursday’s big win will be a huge morale boost for the party, said Sanjay Kumar at the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. It will enthuse BJP’s rank and file, and reinforce the impression that the party will win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Kumar said.
Although the Modi government is struggling with rising inflation, slowing growth and joblessness, but the economic troubles appeared to have had no impact on BJP’s popularity in Gujarat.
That said, the results of the two-phase elections, held earlier this month, were being watched more for the performance of the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that 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, the trends showed the party’s electoral prospects in the state had been hurt by the AAP more than feared. The party’s “silent campaign” seems to have failed to cut ice with the electorate. The party focused mostly 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 so did other senior leaders of the party.
On the other hand, it remains to be seen if the AAP’s performance in these elections would help its leader Arvind Kejriwal cement his place as a key challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliamentary elections due in 2024. For the AAP, which carried out a high-decibel campaign, the elections in Gujarat are also an opportunity to establish itself as a pan-national party.
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.
Several sitting BJP MLAs were among those who were leading. Purnesh Modi, Kanubhai Desai and Hardik Patel were among those leading, besides Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Home Minister Harsh Sanghvi.
Two of Congress party’s key leaders in Gujarat Paresh Danani and Jignesh Mevani — were trailing in their respective constituencies, Amreli and Vadgam. However, its senior-most leader in the state, Arjun Modhwadia was winning in Porbandar.
AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi was trailing in Khambhalia. However, its candidates were ahead in Dediapada, Gariadhar, Jamjodhpur, Visavadar, Botad, and Bhiloda.
Two independent candidates were leading in Dhanera and Vaghodia seats.