The Congress drew first blood in Saurashtra region in bypolls to nine Gujarat Assembly seats as it snatched away Mangrol constituency in Junagadh district from the BJP while the party candidate was ahead from Khambhaliya in Devbhoomi Dwarka district also.
However, the BJP looked set to retain its seats in Talaja in Bhavnagar and Tankara in Morbi.
Babu Vaja of Congress had secured more than 57000 votes out of approximately 114000 total votes cast in Mangrol seat with only two rounds of counting of votes to go. Vaja is a cooperative leader and he also benefitted from a sizable number of voters from minority community. The result is a setback to Junagadh BJP MP Rajesh Chudasama who had resigned as MLA from this seat after his election to Lok Sabha.
In Khambhaliya, Congress candidate Meraman Goriya was leasing his BJP rival and former minister Mulu Bera by more than 2000 votes with three quarters of total polled votes having been counted.
However, former MLA Shiva Gohil was marginally ahead of his Congress rival from Talaja. In Tankara, BJP candidate Bavanji Metaliya was coasting towards victory after taking lead of more than 5000 votes over Lalit Kagathara of Congress.
Saurashtra is a BJP bastion and all the four assembly seats had fallen vacant after their incumbent BJP MLAs were elected to Lok Sabha early this year. Given the stranglehold the saffron party enjoys in the region, Congress victory in Mangrol and a possible win in Khambhaliya are significant.