The BJP bandwagon suffered a jolt in its citadel of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat as a resurgent Congress pocketed 30 of the 54 seats in the politically crucial region almost doubling its 2012 tally.
The BJP bandwagon suffered a jolt in its citadel of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat as a resurgent Congress pocketed 30 of the 54 seats in the politically crucial region almost doubling its 2012 tally. It is the Congress’s powerful performance in the BJP fortress that helped the opposition party to significantly improve its overall tally in the keenly-contested election. The final tally of the BJP in the 182-member assembly stood at 99 seats, a loss of 16 seats compared to 2012, while the Congress improved its performance to 77 seats, a gain of 16 seats. Out of the rest six seats, two were won by the Bhartiya Tribal Party, one by the NCP and three by Independents. Out of the total 54 seats spread across 12 districts of the Saurashtra and Kutch region, the Congress bagged 30 seats, a gain of 14 seats compared to 2012. Out of these 54 seats, 48 fall in 11 districts of Saurashtra and six in Kutch district. The BJP’s loss of 12 seats in the region pulled down its overall tally in the polls. From 35 seats in 2012, the BJP’s numbers in the region slumped to 23. The Congress seems to have improved its performance in the region by riding on resentment among Patidars besides anti-incumbency and farmers’ issues. While the BJP managed to maintain its hold in Rajkot and Bhavnagar districts in the region, the ruling party was routed in Amreli, Gir Somnath and Morbi districts.
Morbi and Amreli districts, which have a large number of Patidar votes, had witnessed some of the most violent protests and arson during the Patel quota agitation in 2015. Results of Amreli, Gir Somnath and Morbi districts have stunned the BJP, as the Congress won all the 12 seats in these districts. The Congress emerged victorious on five seats in Amreli district, four seats in neighbouring Gir Somnath district and three seats in Morbi district. Out of these 12 seats, the BJP held nine seats before the polls. The Congress retained Amreli, Una in Gir Somnath and Wankaner in Morbi district. Apart from retaining the three seats, the opposition party snatched the remaining nine seats from the BJP. The nine seats included Somnath, Talala and Kodinar in Gir Somnath district; Dhari, Lathi, Savarkundla and Rajula in Amreli district, and Morbi and Tankara in Morbi district. In Kutch district which has six seats, the Congress retained Abdasa and won Rapar seat. However, senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil lost from Mandvi seat in Kutch. The resurgent Congress humbled some BJP ministers and heavyweights from the Saurashtra and Kutch region. While Cabinet minister Atmaram Parmar lost from Gadhada (SC) seat in Botad district, Agriculture Minister Chimanbhai Saparia was trounced by Congress’s Chiragbhai Kalariya in Jamjodhpur seat.
Parmar, a prominent Dalit leader of the BJP, bit the dust against Congress’s Pravinbhai Maru. Maru scored 69,457 votes against Parmar’s 60,033. Senior BJP MLA and Water Supply Minister Jasha Barad lost Somnath seat to Congress’s Vimalbhai Chudasama. Kanti Amrutiya, a five-time MLA from Morbi, was humbled by Brijesh Merja of the Congress. During the Patel quota stir, Amrutiya’s office in Morbi town was set ablaze allegedly by agitators. However, Rajkot district, which has eight seats, largely remained loyal to the saffron party. Out of the eight seats up for grabs, the Congress won Dhoraji while retaining Jasdan seat. The BJP retained five seats and snatched Rajkot (East) from the Congress. The Congress had fielded Lalit Vasoya, a key aide of quota spearhead Hardik Patel, from Dhoraji seat in Rajkot district. Vasoya defeated Haribhai Patel of the BJP by a margin of around 25,000 votes.