Gujarat Election Results 2017 | BJP Holds Fort But Not Without Cracks
BJP Retains Gujarat But Congress Gains Ground
The Bharatiya Janata Party will form the government in its bastion of Gujarat even after a scare from the Congress which has claimed a "moral victory" in the state. BJP Chief Amit Shah called it a victory of "developmental politics" over "caste-based politics".
The BJP won 99 of the 182 seats in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf. This was less than the 115 seats it won in the 2012 assembly elections. This, after the party had set itself a target of 150 seats.
The Congress put up a much better showing compared to the previous election, improving their tally to 77 seats from 57 in the previous election. However, it is not clear whether the gains came at the expense of the BJP or other parties. The BJP's vote share in the state saw a more than 2 percentage point improvement to 49.98 percent from around 47 percent earlier.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani secured a huge win from the western Rajkot constituency. He is now the most likely leader to become the chief minister, according to BJP's Amit Malviya. "It is under his leadership that the state went to polls. So I do not see a change happening there," Malviya told BloombergQuint.
Touted as kingmakers, young Congress leader Alpesh Thakor and Congress-backed independent Jignesh Mevani, both won from their respective constituencies. Thakor defeated former Congress leader Lavingji Muljiji Thakor in Radhanpur. Mevani also won from the Vadgam seat.
Patidar-community leader Hardik Patel-backed candidates had a mixed run. Lalit Vasoya of Congress won from Dhoraji, while Bhikhabhai Joshi secured a victory in Junagadh. However, Jayesh Patel lost to BJP's Dushyantbhai Patel in Bharuch.
BJP also secured power in the three key urban centres of Gujarat - Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara - with a clear majority.
Nearly 2 percent of Gujarat's voters - over 5.5 lakh people - opted for the none of the above button instead of voting for any party. The share of NOTA was the highest after BJP, Congress and the independents. This was also the highest share NOTA has recieved in any of the state elections in the country yet.
The high voltage campaigning before the elections had seen both the parties field their big guns. Congress' new president Rahul Gandhi was also its star campaigner in the state while the Prime Minister himself led the charge for the BJP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it an "historic" win for the BJP. It is "unprecedented" in this day and age, for a party to keep winning for so long, he said in his victory speech at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. According to Amit Shah, the party will now shift its focus to the remaining four state elections before the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
Congress leaders meanwhile attributed Congress' improved performance to Rahul Gandhi's campaign. Party General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said that it was reminiscent of Indira Gandhi. “BJP, in the home state of PM Modi and Amit Shah, is struggling to cross even 100,” he said at a media conference. Senior leader Kamal Nath said that "every election has its own message" and this polls were "the start of Rahul Gandhi's political story". Former cabinet minister Shashi Tharoor said, "We may not have reached the destination, but our journey was good."
Watch BloombergQuint’s analysis of the Gujarat verdict here.
PM Modi Delivers Victory Speech
PM Modi has thanked voters in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for choosing the "path of development", addressing a media conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.
"All this proves that India is ready for reforms. We are postively looking to perform and transform the country," Modi said.
He added that Gujarat poll results are historic for BJP. It is "unprecedented" in this day and age, for a party to keep winning for so long, he said.
Also Read: What Gujarat Is Telling India
Did BJP Really Win In Gujarat?
More Than Five Lakh People Chose NOTA
Nearly 5.5 lakh people chose not to vote for any candidate and going for for the NOTA (None of the above) option instead. This was the first time the Gujarat state assembly elections had the NOTA option.
At 1.8 percent of the total votes, NOTA's share was higher than some parties such as NCP, BSP and BTP. Only BJP, Congress and the independent candidates had a higher vote share than NOTA.