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Gujarat key constituencies: Here is what happened in the seats that matter

A clearer analysis of the impact of caste, religion and the bitter struggle between the BJP and Congress on the Gujarat elections is possible, only once we examine the pattern of results in some of the key constituencies of the state.

Gujarat election results, Gujarat assembly elections, Gujarat elections 2017, Gujarat verdict, BJP, Congress, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel, Gujarat news, India news, Indian Express n hour into the counting, the BJP and Congress were in a neck to a neck battle, making it the closest fight between the two parties in the post-Modi Gujarat era.

The BJP is all set to retain its 22-year-long stronghold of Gujarat. As early trends of the Assembly election results pour in, BJP is headed for a comfortable win, while the Congress has improved its position with more seats. An hour into the counting, the BJP and Congress were in a neck to a neck battle, making it the closest fight between the two parties in the post-Modi Gujarat era. However, the ruling party in Gujarat was quick to take over, yet again giving a taste of defeat to the grand old party of India.

The 2017 electoral season in Gujarat was marked by the presence of the Patidar agitation, spearheaded by Hardik Patel. Also, noteworthy is the OBC factor that has been an important issue for both the parties. Noted to be one of the most bitter electoral battle between the two parties, the 2017 elections in the state also saw the emergence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi in a new form, appearing far more formidable than he ever did. A clearer analysis of the impact of caste, religion and the bitter struggle between the BJP and Congress on the Gujarat elections is possible, only once we examine the pattern of results in some of the key constituencies of the state.

Bellwether seats

Three seats in Surat district- Olpad, Surat East and Surat West are believed to be the bellwether seats. It has been noted that whichever party won from these seats, went on to emerge victorious in the Assembly. As per this morning’s results, Olpad and Surat West have been secured by the BJP, while the Congress leads in Surat East.

Patidar dominated constituencies

The Patidar movement led by Hardik Patel has emerged as an important factor this electoral season. One of the dominant and prosperous castes of Gujarat, the Patidars have been demanding for caste-based reservation in educational institutions and in private and public sector jobs. Disgruntled at the ruling party’s inability to improve their socio-economic condition, the Patidars have shifted their support base and rallied around the Congress. Experts believe that the Patidar agitation could have a significant impact on the results, shaking the stronghold that the BJP currently enjoys.

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However, an examination of the results pattern in the Patidar dominated areas show that the agitation did not have an impact on BJP’s hold in several of the areas where the caste is in majority. Most notable among these is Varachha– the Assembly segment with the highest Patidar population percentage. Kishor Kanani Kumar of the BJP emerged victorious in the constituency, winning 21174 votes. Neighbouring Kamrej in Surat, where half the population is made up of Patidars, was won by the BJP in 2012. This year too, the party has maintained its hold here, thereby negating the Hardik effect. Viramgam in Ahmedabad, where Hardik voted, and Nikol have also been held on to by the BJP.

The Congress did make its presence felt in Unjha, Amreli, and Dhoraji, all of which are Patidar dominated areas.

Alpesh Thakor factor

The OBC community leader and activist Alpesh Thakor had gained prominence following Hardik’s quota stir. His movement against illicit liquor earned him a substantial number of followers among the OBCs. Results suggest that the 40 year old has clearly managed to garner public support as he emerges as the leading candidate in Radhanpur constituency. Running the elections on a Congress ticket, Thakor’s popularity has effectively toppled the BJP stronghold in the constituency.

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Jignesh Mevani factor

Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani hit headlines last year when Dalit men were flogged allegedly by gau rakshaks in Una. Since the incident, Mevani has been actively mobilising people of his community against the BJP. Like Thakor, Mevani too seems to have made a strong dent in the ruling party’s popularity in OBC dominated constituencies. At Vadgam, the the home constituency of the 37-year old, Mevani has emerged as the leading candidate. Mevani contested the elections independently, with the backing of the Congress and AAP.

BJP bastions

There are some seats in Gujarat where the BJP has never lost in the last 22 years. Seven out of these 30-odd seats are in Ahmedabad. Results show that apart from Jamalpur-Khadia, which is a Muslim dominated seat, the party has retained its grip on each other other traditional bastions. At Jamalpur-Khadia on the other hand, Imran Yusufbhai Khedawala of the Congress has emerged as the leading candidate.

Nano impact

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had brought up the issue of Tata’s Nano car plant over and again to hit out at PM Narendra Modi. Gandhi accused the Prime Minister of grabbing land from the farmers and giving it away to 4 or 5 big industrialists. Towards the end of the campaign, Modi hit back at Gandhi at a rally in Sanand, home to the Nano car plant. Results from the constituency show that the BJP has emerged victorious here as well, thereby nullifying the impact of Gandhi’s rhetoric here.

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BJP targeting Congress

Anand district had overwhelmingly voted for the Congress in the 2012 elections. Unsurprisingly, the BJP had been targeting the constituency, with the aim of shaking the grip enjoyed by the Congress here. However, voters at Anand appear to have stuck to their support for the Congress, as Kantibhai Sodhaparmar emerged as the leading candidate here.

Pakistan effect

At Palanpur, which is a border town, PM Modi had made the noteworthy remark of Pakistan playing a role in the elections. The north Gujarat seat was secured by the BJP in 2002 and 2007, but in the previous elections the Congress wrested it away. Patel Maheshkumar Amrutlal of the Congress, emerging victorious from here, shows that Modi’s speech did not impact the overall voting pattern in the constituency.

First published on: 18-12-2017 at 01:23:35 pm
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