In the run-up to the Gujarat elections, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal held up a piece of paper on which he had purportedly noted down his poll forecast — and said the AAP will form the government in the state. He even claimed that the Intelligence Bureau had predicted an AAP government. The party’s final tally Thursday was sobering: five of 182 seats.
The glimmer for AAP, its leaders said, is the 12.9-per cent vote share, five seats in the House — and that it had emerged as a national party (six per cent vote share in at least four states: Delhi, Punjab, Goa and now Gujarat). In several of the 34 seats where it came second, it polled over 20 per cent of the vote.
Most of the party’s candidates were first-time contestants, and the party’s tally included two seats that were previously held by BJP, one by the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) and two by the Congress.
Among the wins, AAP’s Bhupendra Bhayani upstaged Harshadkumar Ribadiya who had won for the Congress in 2017 with over 81,000 votes and contested on a BJP ticket this time in Visavadar. Bhayani polled 66,000 votes (45 per cent vote share).
Visavadar was held by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel for eight years, between 1995 and 2002. Patel had been elected again from this seat in 2012 as a Gujarat Parivartan Party candidate.
Similarly, in Jamjodhpur, AAP’s Hemantbhai Ahir toppled Congress’ Chirag Kalariya who had won in 2017 with 47 per cent of vote share. This time, Ahir grabbed 47 per cent of vote share, leaving Kalariya behind at second with around nine per cent of vote share.
The BJP-held seats of Gariadhar and Botad were taken by AAP’s Sudhir Vaghani and Umesh Makwana, respectively. In Botad, where the BJP won in 2017 by just 900 votes, AAP recorded a much better margin of 2,779 votes.
AAP’s Chaitar Vasava also scripted a definitive win in the reserved ST seat of Dediapada, which was earlier held by BTP leader Mahesh Vasava. Vasava did not contest this time and Chaitar won with 55 per cent of the vote share, polling 1.03 lakh votes.
In most of the 34 other seats where AAP emerged second, it ended behind the BJP.
In three of these seats — Choryasi, Majura and Valsad — the BJP won with a margin of over 1 lakh votes. But in Choryasi, AAP’s Prakashbhai Contractor managed to grab 15 per cent of the vote share even as the Congress’s share fell from 24 per cent in 2017 to eight per cent.
In several of these seats, AAP’s entry directly impacted the Congress, especially in some reserved constituencies, and polled, on an average, over 20% of the votes.
AAP state president Gopal Italia, who lost from Katargam, said, “After this small step of sending five MLAs to the Gujarat Assembly, we will work hard to take a big leap in the next elections and make our party stronger.”
Italia also thanked voters for becoming “a medium to make us a national political party”, and said that his party had got “over 40 lakh votes”. “Our candidates fought bravely against rivals who were backed by government machinery and financially strong people,” he said.
(With Kamaal Saiyed/ Surat)