The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has improved its performance in Central Gujarat districts of Vadodara, Dahod, Panchmahals, Anand and Kheda districts, even as the Congress retained its influence in the tribal areas.
Results of the assembly elections declared on Thursday show that the BJP has swept Vadodara district and opened its account in Dahod district. However, the Congress gained two seats in Anand and one in Kheda.
The BJP penetrated the tribal belt by winning Fatehpura, Limkheda and Devgadhbariya seats of Dahod district. It also retained Kalol and Halol in Panchmahals district. The Congress bagged three tribal constituencies in Vadodara – Chhota Udepur, Sankheda and Jetpur.
In closely fought contests at Lunavada and Godhra, Congress candidates Hirabhai Patel and CK Raulji defeated their BJP rivals. Congress’s influence among the tribal population as well as the Patels and the Muslims, benefited them.
The Muslims in Godhra voted in large numbers for the Congress, giving a thrilling victory to Raulji.
A large number of urban voters, however, did not help the BJP to regain Godhra. Despite Modi’s Sadbhavna fasts to lure Muslim voters, the Muslims did not opt for him, thereby giving another chance to Raulji to win Godhra.
The new constituency formed in the district, Morva Hadaf, was won by Savita Khant of the Congress, while there was no exceptional gain for BJP in Panchmahals. Khant, immediately after the results were announced, suffered from heart attack and was admitted to a hospital.
The BJP opened its account in Dahod, with three seats; it had scored zero in 2007. The BJP gained Fatehpura, a new constituency. Congress MLA Dita Machhar lost to Ramesh Katara of the BJP. Garbada, another new constituency, was won by Chandrika Bariya, the sitting MLA of the Congress.
The wins in Fatehpura and Limkheda’s have improved the BJP’s tally in the tribal belt. However, Vajesinh Panada, the Congress MLA, retained Dahod constituency.
BD Vaghela, a retired IPS officer who contested from Jhalod (ST) seat, lost to Dr Mitesh Garasiya. Both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi had conducted rallies here during the campaigning to lure tribal voters.
Bachu Khabad from Devgadhbariya had a thrilling win with a margin of over one lakh votes. His closest rival was Bhupendra Chauhan of the Congress. Minister of state Jaswant Bhabor won from the Limkheda constituency.
The BJP swept almost the entire Vadodara district, except some tribal constituencies. It did not manage to get Chhota Udepur and Sankheda constituencies, which are dominated by tribals. Out of 13 constituencies in the district, BJP won nine, while Savli seat was won by Independent candidate Inamdar Ketan. Industry and energy minister Saurabh Patel won from Akota.
The BJP might have benefited the most from delimitation, which changed the profile of a few constituencies. In 2007, out of 13 seats, BJP won seven and Congress five. Dinu Patel alias Dinu Mama won as an Independent candidate from Padra in 2007. Nasvadi constituency was merged with Sankheda and Vadodara Rural was partly merged with Padra, helping the BJP. However, the Congress, too, benefitted, as a large part of the rural area was shifted to Sankheda constituency.
Delimitation, the influential presence of Kshtriya and Patel voters, and the experiment of fielding new faces by the BJP, helped the Congress to improve its tally in seven constituencies of Anand. In 2007, the Congress surpassed the BJP tally, and the trend was repeated in 2012. Anklav, a new constituency, was won by the Congress and it swung the Sojitra constituency from the BJP. However, Jayant Patel, the NCP candidate from Umreth, secured a sensational victory.
The impact of delimitation was maximum in Kheda district, from the BJP’s viewpoint. Of the Congress and NCP dominated seats - three constituencies (in 2007) Sarsa, Chaklasi and Kathlal - were merged in constituencies in Anand. This meant that ten seats in Kheda decreased to seven. Mahemdabad, a new constituency, has been won by the Congress.