The BJP not only repeated its 2014 tally by heading towards a win in all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, but also improved its vote share from 59% in 2014 to over 62% this year as the party returned to power at the Centre with a larger mandate.
Leading the BJP’s win in the state was party president Amit Shah, who won from the prestigious Gandhinagar constituency with a margin of over 5.57 lakh votes.
In Gujarat, voting was held in a single phase on April 23, which had witnessed a record turnout of 64.11%.
In a rebuke to Congress’s “Chowkidar Chor Hai” campaign against Prime Minister Naren-dra Modi over the Rafale deal, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the people of India voted for “Imaandar Chowkidar (an honest guard)”.
Rupani credited three factors for the BJP’s thumping victory. “One, he (Modi) ran the government with honesty and credentials. Second, his hard work. He dedicated every second of his life to the country. Third, patriotism, where nation was first… People have directly voted for Modi. Such is the pride among the voters,” he said.
The BJP this time had dropped its 10 sitting MPs. Among them was party founder member L K Advani, who has traditionally contested from the Gandhinagar seat. Advani was replaced by Amit Shah, who defeated Congress candidate C J Chavda with a margin that broke Advani’s previous record victory margin of over 4.84 lakh votes.
Another important BJP MP dropped by the party this time was Union minister Haribhai Chaudhary from Banaskantha constituency. Instead of Chaudhary, BJP had fielded sitting MLA from Tharad constituency and minister in Gujarat government Parbat Patel. Patel defeated Congress’s Parthibhai Bhatol by over 3 lakh votes.
Apart from Parbat Patel, BJP had also fielded three of its sitting MLAs — Hasmukh Patel (Amraiwadi), Ratansinh Rathod (Lunavada) and Bharatsinh Dabhi (Kheralu).
P also made a clean sweep in bypolls to four Assembly seats — Manavadar in Junagadh, Jamnagar (Rural) , Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar and Unjha in Mehsana — all held by the Congress. The seats had fallen vacant after the Congress MLAs — Jawahar Chavda (Manavadar), Vallabh Dharaviya (Jamnagar Rural), Parshottam Sabariya (Dhrangadhra) and Asha Patel (Unjha) — defected to the BJP over the past few months.
While BJP fielded Chavda, Sabariya and Asha Patel from their respective seats, it fielded another Congress turncoat, Raghavji Patel, from Jamnagar (Rural).
With this, the BJP’s strength in the 182-member Assembly has now reached 104. In the 2017 Assembly elections, the party had won 99 seats with a simple majority. Later, Congress MLA from Jasdan, Kunvarji Bavaliya, joined the BJP and went on to win the Assembly bypoll.
The Congress conceded defeat and said that party workers fought against “BJP’s power, money and tricks”. “The results have been contrary to our expectations, but we accept them with grace…Whatever shortcomings our organisation might have, we will contemplate and try to improve and raise issues such as unemoployment and corruption. Our fight to ensure nyay (justice) for the people of Gujarat will continue,” said state Congress chief Amit Chavda.