Home Global Village Gujarat Elections 2017: BJP wins but loses in public eye

Gujarat Elections 2017: BJP wins but loses in public eye

Gujarat
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will retain power in Gujarat for a sixth straight term, after it just about edged past the half-way mark in one of the most bitterly contested elections in recent times. While it survived a fearsome challenge, many have negated its claim of victory including allies and crowned its rival the Congress as the real winner.

The BJP clinched 99 seats out of 182, while the Congress improved its tally as compared to five years ago, winning 77 seats. Smaller parties and Independent candidates clinched six seats. While the BJP celebrated all across Gujarat and in Delhi, the 99-seat tally was far less than the target of 150 set by party president Amit Shah, and 16 less than what it got in 2012.

The BJP also swept Himachal Pradesh, snatching it from the Congress and taking the total of states where it is in power to 16. With 44 seats, it has won almost a two-thirds majority in the 68-member Himachal assembly.

The Congress’ campaign, led by its now President Rahul Gandhi, finished with a tally of 77, its highest in the western state in the last 22 years. Outside Parliament, a beaming Modi flashed the victory sign to celebrate the result. Senior BJP leaders taunted Rahul and said the result proved that the people had embraced the Gujarat model of development.

But the BJP’s overall vote share in the state plunged from 60.11 percent, which it managed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, to 49 percent, indicating a sharp erosion of support in a state, which the party considers its fortress. However, it can take comfort in the 1.25 percent increase in its vote share compared to the 2012 Assembly election. Meanwhile, Congress’ vote share soared from 33.45 percent in 2014 to 41.5 percent.

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But that still meant it was nearly 8 percentage points behind BJP, only a marginally smaller lead in votes than in 2012. In a bipolar election, a gap of that magnitude should normally result in a fairly big win for the leading party, as in fact happened last time.

The parliamentary board of 13 top leaders including PM Modi and Amit Shah met on Monday evening and picked union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the BJP’s general secretary Saroj Pandey as the party’s observers for the selection of the chief minister in Gujarat.

Mr. Raut’s remarks came as the Shiv Sena heaped praise on Rahul Gandhi, lauding the newly appointed Congress president for “fighting the Gujarat election battle without bothering about the result”.

During the Gujarat election campaign, Amit Shah had said that incumbent chief minister Vijay Rupani was the party’s face in the state. Mr. Rupani remains the front-runner for chief minister, sources said. He contested from Rajkot West, a BJP safe seat from where PM Modi had contested as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2002. Mr. Rupani won by a margin of 25,000 votes against his Congress rival Indranil Rajguru.

As the BJP retained Gujarat, its ally, the Shiv Sena, has said that it was the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress which had emerged as the “real winner” in the election. Coming to power was no “big thing”, Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, adding that the Congress may have lost the elections, but had “defeated” the BJP.

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“Although you see the BJP coming to power, the real winner is the Congress party. They may have lost, but have defeated the BJP,” Mr. Raut said. He pointed out that the BJP had been in power for over 20 years in Gujarat. Therefore “Coming to power is not a big thing,” he added. The Sena leader also claimed that the BJP’s “much-touted Gujarat model” had failed.

It can take comfort in the 1.25 percent increase in its vote share compared to the 2012 Assembly election. Meanwhile, Congress’ vote share soared from 33.45 percent in 2014 to 41.5 percent.

“The model which took the BJP on the path to power in the country, has failed. The reason is that none of the dreams you (BJP) showed the state and the country were realised,” Mr. Raut claimed. He also claimed that the Narendra Modi-led government had not registered success on a single issue, whether it was security, Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan, the note ban, unemployment or farmer suicides. “This is what I gather from the Gujarat election results,” he said.

Mr. Raut’s remarks came as the Shiv Sena heaped praise on Rahul Gandhi, lauding the newly appointed Congress president for “fighting the Gujarat election battle without bothering about the result”.

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The BJP also swept Himachal Pradesh, snatching it from the Congress and taking the total of states where it is in power to 16. With 44 seats, it has won almost a two-thirds majority in the 68-member Himachal assembly, but awkwardly, its presumptive chief minister PK Dhumal lost his election. This means that the party will have to appoint someone else. BJP chief Amit Shah said on Monday that the party’s highest decision making body, the parliamentary board, would decide on who would be Himachal chief minister.


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