The BJP not only repeated its 2014 tally by winning all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, but it also improved its vote share by three percent — from 59% in 2014 to 62.2% this year as the party returned to power at the Centre with a larger mandate. Party president Amit Shah who led from the front won the prestigious Gandhinagar constituency by defeating Congress’s C J Chavda with 5.57 lakh votes.
Gujarat voted in a single phase on April 23 and witnessed a record turnout of 64.11%. In a rebuke to the Congress’s Chowkidar Chor Hai’ campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the people of India voted for “Imaandar Chowkidar (an honest guard)”. “In 2014, the victory was against UPA’s 10-year rule in which the Manmohan Singh government was actually run by Sonia Gandhi, which finished the nation and created new highs in corruption. The nation voted against that and saw Modi as an option and voted to see him as the prime minister. However, this time, Modi’s five years’ work was discussed, and what he had said has been proved correct,” Rupani told The Indian Express.
Rupani credited three factors to the BJP’s thumping victory of the Modi government. “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 the nation was first. The decisive BJP government, the way it dealt with terrorism. After Pulwama terror attack, Prime Minister Modi took strong and strict actions. So, people know that the nation is safe in his hands and only he can take it forward. People could see all this in Modi due to which the nation from every corner had voted for the BJP. People have directly voted for Modi. Such is the pride among the voters,” he added.
The BJP this time had dropped its 10 sitting MPs. Among them was party founder member L K Advani who has been traditionally representing 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 — Amraiwadi MLA Hasmukh Patel from Ahmedabad East, Lunavada MLA Ratansinh Rathod from Panchmahal and Kheralu MLA Bharatsinh Dabhi from Patan. While Hasmukh Patel won by defeating Congress’s Geetaben Patel by a margin of over 4.33 lakh votes, Ratansinh Rathod and Bharatsinh Dabhi defeated their Congress rivals by over 4 lakh and 1.94 lakh votes, respectively.
In Surat, the BJP’s Darshana Jardosh won by 5.48 lakh votes, defeating Congress candidate Ashok Patel. In Jamnagar, BJP’s Poonam Madam won by over 2.36 lakh votes defeating Congress candidate Mulu Kandoriya. BJP’s Mitesh Patel won from Anand, defeating Congress candidate and former Union minister Bharat Solanki by a margin of 1.97 lakh votes. In Bardoli, BJP’s Parbhu Vasava defeated Congress candidate Tushar Chaudhary by 2.15 lakh votes. BJP candidate from Chhota Udepur, Gitaben Rathva, won by a margin of 3.77 lakh votes, defeating Congress candidate Ranjitsinh Rathva. BJP’s Mohan Kundariya won Rajkot seat by a margin of 3.68 lakh votes, defeating Congress’ Lalit Kagathara.
In Vadodara, BJP candidate Ranjan Bhatt was leading by a margin of over 5.84 lakh votes against Congress’ Prashant Patel. Notably, she has crossed prime minister Modi’s victory margin of 5.70 lakh in 2014 elections from Vadodara. BJP candidates were leading by over 3 lakh votes in Valsad, Kheda, Kutch, Ahmedabad (East), Ahmedabad (West), Banaskantha, Bharuch and Bhavnagar till reports last came in. The lowest lead of a BJP candidate was in Dhahod, where a minister in Modi government, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, is ahead by 1.26 lakh votes.
Meanwhile, the BJP also won all the four Assembly bypolls that were necessitated with the resignation of Congress MLAs. “We have added four more seats (in the Assembly), and with Kunvarji (Bavaliya), it becomes five. So, after 2017 we have won every election. In Gujarat, Congress has disappeared and BJP’s reach has expanded,” Rupani said, adding that there was no discussion on expanding his Cabinet. “We are not importing from Congress, it is being exported from there. We do not import, and this is the reason I say that the Congress is disintegrating which will further break in the coming days. Not only in Gujarat, the party is breaking in the entire country,” he added.
“We have been saying this before too that the Congress was playing a political game by dividing the state on the basis of caste and region during the (2017) Assembly elections. The way all those (Patidar) agitations happened, it was a design by the Congress. All those involved in these agitations have joined Congress today. It is clear,” he said, referring to Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel.