As the South Gujarat voted in the first phase of polling for the Gujarat Assembly elections, Surat, the epicentre of the Patidar quota agitation, recorded 61.71 per cent turnout — a dip compared to the polling percentage in 2017 Assembly election of 66.79.
Among the 16 constituencies in the district, the Patidar dominated seats Katargam and Olpad recorded a high turnout, while the highest turnout was recorded in Mandvi — 75 per cent.
The AAP had fielded all the well known faces on these seats like Alpesh Katheriya, Manoj Sorathiya, Ram Dhaduk, Dharmik Malaviya and Gopal Italia in Varachha, Karanj, Kamrej, Surat north, Olpad, Katargam — all dominated by the Patidar community.
On November 27, three days before phase one of polling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done a roadshow in Surat stretching upto nearly 18 kms and addressed huge public meeting in Patidar dominated area at Abrahma in Varachha. While AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal participated in roadshow in Patidar dominated area in Katagarm.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed one meeting in Mahuva seat of Surat district. UP Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had done road show in Patidar dominated areas while addressed two public meetings one in Limbayat and another in Choryasi seats.
Kejriwal also conducted meetings with the Textile and diamond industry people and assured all the support to them, if voted into power, the same Sunday as Modi’s roadshow.
The importance of South Gujarat region in the state polls can be understood when Modi had kickstarted his election campaign public meeting from Nanaponda village in the Kaprada seat of Valsad district on November 6.
Expressing confidence of winning the polls, Union Minister and Surat city MP Darshana Jardosh said, “The picture created by AAP is fake and they don’t have ground support. While Congress is seen nowhere so, our victory is easy.”
In 2017 assembly elections, out of 35 seats in South Gujarat starting from Narmada district to Dangs district, BJP had won 26 seats, while Congress had 7 and BTP had 2 seats.
Two Congress MLAs Mangal Gavit from Dang and Jitu Chaudhary from Kaprada had left Congress and joined before the Rajya Sabha elections. BJP won both the seats in the bypolls in 2022. With this, presently, BJP has 28 seats, while the Congress tally reduced to five.
On Thursday, AAP candidate Gopal Italia complained about slow voting done in his Katargam assembly area in Surat. Later certain changes were made, and voting was done smoothly.
Top BJP leaders including Paatil, Jardosh, MoS Home Harsh Sanghavi, and AAP leaders including its state president Gopal Italia and general secretary Manoj Sorathiya, who is a candidate from Karanj seat, voted in the first phase of polls on Thursday.