BJP supporters celebrate their win in the Assembly elections, outside the Gujarat College counting centre in Amedabad. (Image: PTI) 

BJP Wins Jasdan Bypoll; Reaches Three-Figure Mark In Gujarat Assembly 

The ruling BJP comfortably won the bypoll from Jasdan assembly seat in Gujarat on Sunday, taking its tally in the House to 100. BJP candidate and minister Kunvarji Bavaliya defeated his nearest rival Congress nominee Avsar Nakiya by a margin of 19,979 votes, officials said.

Bavaliya not only retained the assembly seat in Rajkot district, which he had won for the Congress in 2017, but also increased his victory margin. The BJP now has 100 seats in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, while the Congress tally has come down to 76 in the 182-member House. The saffron outfit, which is ruling Gujarat for over two decades now, had won 99 seats in the 2017 assembly polls and the Congress bagged 77 seats.

Bavaliya secured 90,262 votes as against 70,283 polled for Nakiya, officials said. Besides them, six other candidates were also in the fray. A total 2,146 votes were cast as NOTA, they said. The bypoll was held on Dec. 20 and the counting took place Sunday.

The Jasdan by-poll had become a battle of prestige between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in the wake of the latter winning the just-held assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Bavaliya, who quit as assembly member on July 2, was made a Cabinet minister in the BJP government the same day. In 2017, Bavaliya had defeated BJP candidate Bharat Boghara by a margin of 9,277 votes.

Speaking after the result was announced, Bavaliya thanked the Jasdan voters, his friends from the Congress who supported him after he joined the BJP, the saffron outfit's leadership and its workers for the bypoll victory. Bavaliya, who won the Jasdan seat for the sixth time, said he will take up the people-centric issues.

"This is the victory of the people of this area and also efforts of Chief Minister (Vijay) Rupani, state BJP President Jitu Vaghani and others friends, and my former Congress colleagues who supported me after I joined BJP, and all small, big party workers who worked for me," he said.

"We will take up issues affecting the people of this area and ensure its overall development," he said. As per election rules, Bavaliya was required to get elected to the assembly within six months of resigning to continue as a minister. As soon as the result was announced, BJP leaders, including Rupani, gathered at the party's state headquarters in Gandhinagar to celebrate.

Rupani said, "After results of three states, Congress was spreading many lies in Jasdan out of over-enthusiasm. Kunvarjibhai had won by over 9,000 votes last time. This time is a bigger margin, showing that both BJP and Congress voters voted for the lotus (BJP's poll symbol)." Rupani said the BJP's win in Jasdan, which constitutes mainly rural areas, shows farmers are with the ruling party.

"Kunvarji's victory by such a huge margin shows that all sections of Jasdan, including farmers, have trusted BJP. People have endorsed the works of the BJP's central and state governments. Congress gave false promise in the name of farmers," the chief minister said.

Nakiya, a Rajkot district panchayat member who once worked closely with Bavaliya in the Congress, expressed his gratitude to those who voted for him. "I express my gratitude to people from different communities who voted for me," he said, while not rejecting the possibility of EVMs being tampered. However, state Congress president Amit Chavda accepted his party's defeat in the bypoll.

While Nakiya contested an assembly poll for the first time, Bavaliya had won from the seat, which has 2.32 lakh registered voters, five times in the past as the Congress candidate -- in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2017.

Since the formation of Gujarat in 1960, the BJP has won Jasdan only once - in the by-election of 2009 when Bavaliya vacated the seat after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajkot.

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