The counting of votes is underway in the Morbi constituency and BJP candidate Amrutiya Kantilal Shivlal has taken an early lead against Congress candidate Jayantilal Jerajbhai Patel. The constituency came into focus when a colonial-era suspension bridge over the Macchchu river in Morbi town collapsed two on October 30, claiming 135 lives.
The bridge was thrown open for the public on October 26 after seven months of repair work by a private firm. Amrutiya, a five-time former BJP MLA who was almost forgotten in political circles, suddenly shot to the limelight as videos showed him jumping into the water to rescue the victims went viral.
Along with his popularity among the masses, it was this brave act which helped him get a ticket for the Morbi Assembly seat from the BJP.
The former five-term BJP MLA from Morbi, Amrutiya is now contesting his seventh consecutive election from the seat. Amrutiya, better known as Kanabhai, has won from the Morbi seat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012, but lost in 2017.
Merja had later joined the BJP and won the Morbi by-election and is currently serving as a minister in the Gujarat government.
In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, Amrutiya lost to Congress candidate Brijesh Merja. Speaking to The Indian Express about the reasons for his defeat in 2017, he said, “Patidar quota agitation and the subsequent agitations of Thakor community and the one launched by Jignesh (Mevani). There are voters of minority community here and yet I lost with a margin of 3,400 votes only. People didn’t clang plates as a mark of protest against me.”