After more than 21 years,the Gujarat Congress today wrested the Mansa Assembly constituency from the ruling BJP. The victory assumes significance as the constituency is considered a BJP bastion and its campaign was closely planned and monitored by Chief Minister Narendra Modi,who also held one of his Sadbhavana Mission fasts here. Besides,it was the last crucial before the Assembly elections at the end of this year.At least 75 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise and the Congresss Babusinh Thakor defeated the BJPs Dashrath Patel by a comfortable margin of 8,182 votes.The bypoll had been necessitated by the death former speaker Mangaldas Patel. The loss of Mansa is a second blow to the ruling BJP in north Gujarat its traditional stronghold after having lost to the Congress in the newly constituted Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation in April last year.It is home to some powerful politicians such as the controversial former minister of state for home Amit Shah. At the time of the election,the BJP had posted ministers at polling booths. Claiming that the Sadbhavana fast had not been for political gain but to spread the message of unity and peace,state BJP president RC Faldu blamed the defeat on the absence of a three-pronged fight. This time it was between us and the Congress. Our voters were with us but votes meant for independents went to the Congress. So we lost, he said.
The man especially happy would be Shankersinh Vaghela,the partys election campaign committee in-charge. He had also led the partys Sardar Sandesh Yatra from Mansa on January 4 and his skills as a campaigner had been at stake before the Assembly elections.
Mansa is considered the epicentre of north Gujarat politics. By-elections are mostly won by the ruling party. But here they have lost, said Vaghela today.
UPA partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) sought to share credit in the Congress victory. Its Gujarat unit president Jayant Patel stressed that it was about time the Congress understood the importance of the party in defeating the BJP. Its leaders should create an environment conducive to taking the NCP into confidence for giving a united fight to the BJP in the Assembly elections.