Congress citadel in Gujarat falls to BJP

Written by Political Bureau | Ahmedabad | Updated: Sep 18 2010, 06:39am hrs
The BJP on Friday stormed into a Congress bastion in Gujarat, bagging the Kathlal Assembly seat for the first time in five decades.

In the by-election, Kanu Dabhi won by over 21,000 votes, defeating his nearest Congress rival Ghelabhai Zala. Dabhi secured 62,120 votes while Zala polled 40,573 votes. With this win, the strength of the BJP in the 182-member state Assembly increased to 122. The main opposition Congress has 54 MLAs while others hold six seats.

Savouring the victory, chief minister Narendra Modi, who turned 61 on Friday, fired a salvo at the Congress, saying people have defeated every conspiracy of the Congress and CBI. This is peoples support for development-oriented politics, Modi told reporters in Gandhinagar shortly after his partys win in the by-election necessitated due to the death of sitting Congress MLA Gautam Zala.

Even the Congress and the CBI together could not defeat BJP in what was considered a Congress bastion, Modi said, noting that the BJP has never won a seat from Kathlal.

Those indulging in secular vote-bank politics, he said, have been given a befitting reply by the people of Gujarat. It has come from an area which is represented by two Central ministers. Clearly, people have rejected the Congress, he said.

Kathlal is in central Gujarats Kheda district, which is represented in the Lok Sabha by Union minister Dinsha Patel. The adjacent Anand parliamentary constituency is represented by another Union minister Bharat Solanki.

In New Delhi, the BJP hailed the win as a complete rejection of Congress-CBI alliance by state voters. The Congress-CBI alliance and misuse of CBI in Gujarat has been completely rejected by the people of the state, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman told reporters in an apparent reference to the arrest of Modis close aide and former state home minister Amit Shah by CBI in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

It is a slap on the face of Congress for trying all kinds of methods including misuse of CBI to gain politically in a state which they have been repeatedly rejected, she said.