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Riot-hit areas prove decisive

The Congress' rout in the 65 riot-hit assembly seats in central and north Gujarat seems to be the major factor contributing to the BJP's landslide victory in the state.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2002 01:03 IST

The Congress' rout in the 65 riot-hit assembly seats in central and north Gujarat seems to be the major factor contributing to the BJP's landslide win.

The BJP candidates riding high on a hindutva wave not only held on to their seats but wrested as many as 21 seats from the Congress, thereby getting an impressive tally of 52 out of 65 seats. The BJP's performance was particularly impressive in areas within 100 km of both Godhra and the riot-hit areas of Ahmedabad. The Congress once had considerable influence in these areas.

The BJP's influence, it now appears, has been very strong in Dohad and Panchmahals, which includes the Godhra seat, won this time by Hareshbhai Bhatt, a Bajrang Dal leader contesting on a BJP ticket. In central Gujarat too, the party has captured 41 seats, compared to the Congress' seven — a gain of 26 seats, that ensured BJP its best performance ever.

The riot-hit areas of central Gujarat have shown complete polarisation.

The emotional, high-voltage rabble rousing of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and VHP general Secretary Praveen Togadia seem to have made the most impact here, putting development issues on the backburner. Siddhartha Patel, son of late Chimanbhai Patel, who was contesting on a Congress ticket, was among the losers in Dabhoi.

In a way, central Gujarat did for the BJP this time what Saurashtra had done for it the last time when party nominees had fared extremely well bagging 52 of the 58 seats in the region. The party suffered some unexpected reversals in the area indicating that the anti-incumbency factor did play an important role.

Former chief minister Suresh Mehta who had been winning from Mandvi in the Kutch area was defeated this time and so was Speaker Bhirubhai Shah from Rapar. Other notable BJP leaders to lose are Purshottam Rupala, a minister and spokesman of the Modi government who was defeated from the party stronghold of Amreli. The BJP won only 40 seats from Saurashtra this time, conceding 11 and enabling the Congress to bag 17 seats with one going to an independent.

In north Gujarat, the Congress has made only a marginal gain, winning 16 seats and the BJP's hindutva accounted for 35 seats.

In south Gujarat where the Congress was expected to do well, the party managed to get only half the seats. The BJP through the VHP cadres has made major inroads in Congress bastions and put up a brave fight, winning 10 seats.

Though the BJP has come to power in the state, the expectations of the people too have risen manifold. Therefore, it will be performance and not adherence to extreme hindutva which may help in consolidating the party's position further.


Regionwise performance

Kutch and Saurashtra Seats: 58

Party 1998 2002

Congress 6 17

BJP 5040

Others 2 1

Keshubhai Patel stronghold

BJP was expected to fare badly here because of Keshubhai’s ouster and the absence of the Hindutva factor. But obviously the BJP could overcome all that.

North GujaratSeats: 52

Party 1998 2002

Congress 13 16

BJP 37 35

Others 2 1

BJP bastion

Ahmedabad district, where most of the rioting occurred, is in this region. The electorate here is highly polarised, so the BJP was expected to do well here. Actually, it slipped a bit.

Central GujaratSeats: 50

Party 1998 2002

Congress 28 7

BJP 15 41

Others 7 2

Traditional Congress stronghold

There are some Muslim dominated areas here, including Vadodara and Khera districts. But this being a riot-hit region, votes got polarised in favour of the BJP.

South GujaratSeats: 21

Party 1998 2002*

Congress 6 11

BJP 14 10

Others 1 00

Known for textile and diamond industries, and the green belt. Businessmen and farmers here are very unhappy with the government, but the Congress failed to capitalise on the anti-incumbency feelings.

First Published: Dec 16, 2002 01:03 IST