After suffering huge losses in panchayat and municipality elections last November, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored a moral-boosting victory in bypoll to Talala Assembly constituency in Gir Somnath district as party candidate Govind Parmar defeated his Congress rival Bhagwan Barad and helped snatch away the seat from Congress for the first time in 10 years, on Thursday.
In the counting of vote undertaken at Vevaval in Gir Somnath, Parmar secured 63,899 votes against his Congress rival Barad’s tally of 61,458. Thus the BJP candidate won the by-election by a margin of 2,441 votes. Congress was ahead from the beginning of the counting of votes and Barad led till Round 14. But the trend reversed all of a sudden in the Round 15 and Parmar seized the initiative as EVMs of booths from Sutrapada taluka were unlocked for counting. In the penultimate round, the BJP candidate consolidate his position before emerging victorious in the Round 17.
The victory is likely to lift the spirit of the BJP after the battering it had suffered in Saurashtra region in the district and panchayat polls six months ago. The Saffron party had lost most of the district panchayats with exception of Porbandar and Surendranagar. Later, it managed to retain power in Gir Somnath with the help of independents.
The defeat raises concern for Congress as the result adds to the series of losses in Assembly polls in the state for almost two decades now. The bypoll was warranted after sitting Congress MLA and former minister Jashubhai Barad died in January this year after brief illness. In a bid to ride the sympathy wave for the Barad family among voters, the Congress had given ticket to Jashubhai’s younger brother Bhagwan. But the BJP had thrown its entire weight behind the contest with Rajya Sabha member of BJP general secretary Mansukh Mandavia being made in-charge of the by-election and more than a dozen ministers addressing election rallies.
The victory also absolves the Saffron party’s faith in 55-year-old Parmar. Currently incumbent president of Veraval agriculture produce market committee and who has interest in construction business and agriculture, Parmar had lost consecutive elections from the same seat over the last decade.
Bhagwan had beaten him by 5,632 votes in the 2007 Assembly elections. He had suffered another defeat at the hands of Jashubhai in the 2012 Assembly elections by 1,478 votes. These two defeats had come on the back of Parmar’s victory against Jashubhai in 2002 Assembly elections by a narrow margin of 626 votes.
“The victory is result of hard work of BJP workers and good steps taken by the state government led by Chief Minister and Central government. The state government exercised caution in the Patidar quota stir and has given alternately whatever was possible. Yuva Swavalamban Yojna and 10 per cent reservation for economically backward class have satisfied people. Congress had only added fuel to the fire of Patidar agitation and the Opposition party was of the opinion that people have lost faith in the BJP. But this result proves otherwise and is also an indication of what might happen in the 2017 Assembly elections,” said Raju Dhruv, BJP spokesperson for Saurashtra region.
On the other hand, Congress accepted the defeat saying it couldn’t manage the poll well. “The constituency is spread accross two blocks—Talal and Sutrapada. While our performance was as per expectations in Talala, we believe we couldn’t manage our campaing that well in Sutrapada. Also, we couldn’t mobilse as many resources as they did. They used everything including money and muscle power to ensure victory. We shall study the results and take necessory lessons,” said senior Congress leader and former state chief Arjun Modhwadia.