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While the BJP has set for itself an ambitious target of breaking former Congress Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solankis record by winning 151 of the 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat in the elections later this year,the task seems difficult if leads that the ruling party got in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections fought on the new delimited constituencies are any indication.
In 2009,BJP candidates trailed behind the Congress in many of the Assembly segments represented by senior ministers in the Narendra Modi government.
While the Assembly-wise leads showed the BJP having an edge on 107 seats and the Congress leading on 75 in the LS polls,there were 31 Assembly segments where the difference between the two parties was less than 3,000 votes.
In some seats,it was even less Sankheda (39),Dabhoi (750),Jambusar (175) and Vav (804). In many others,BJP led by less than 1,000 votes.
The results were also a shocker for important state ministers. The BJP was lagging behind by 8,334 votes in Patan represented by Revenue minister Anandi Patel considered number two in the government.
In Siddhpur,from where Health minister Jay Narayan Vyas is an MLA, BJP was trailing by 11,391 votes. In Vadgam,which is presently represented by Social Justice Minister Fakir Vaghela,Congress registered a lead of 23,158 votes. In Kadi,represented by Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel,Congress led by 542 votes. These ministers are likely to either seek new constituencies or get out of race completely,say sources. In Limdi,from where Kiritsinh Rana,MoS for Forest & Environment is an MLA,Congress registered a lead of 210 votes.
Upsets for the Congress were in the Bhavnagar West seat where the party led by just 2,637 votes. This seat is represented by Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil.
In Porbandar seat represented by state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia,BJP led by 6,113 votes.
In the 2002 polls held in the wake of riots,BJP won 127 seats while Congress won 50. In 2007,BJPs score fell to 117,but in the subsequent bypolls,it improved to 122. The Congress tally also rose to 55. The JDU has one seat while the NCP won two. Two others were won by Independents.
The maximum number of Assembly seats any party has ever won was 149,won by Congress under the leadership of Solanki in 1985,the year in which Gujarat was hit by the anti-reservation stir. Solanki by far is the Congresss longest reigning CM in Gujarat,having done three terms as CM.