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Vote springs seven surprises

Ahmedabad, Dec. 23: The Gujarat result has thrown up many a surprise, stumping pundits and modern-day fortune-tellers.

Surprise I

The biggest surprise has been Saurashtra where rebellion against Modi was most visible. Yet, the dissidence had no adverse fallout on the BJP.

Saurashtra was considered dissident commander-in-chief Keshubhai Patel’s stronghold. Of the 10-odd rebel MLAs, seven contested on the Congress symbol. Except one, all lost.

The BJP’s sweep was so stunning that it has improved its tally from 39 in 2002 to 44 out of the 58 seats in Saurashtra and Kutch. Kutch is the home turf of former chief minister Suresh Mehta who resigned from the primary membership of the BJP saying he could not tolerate Modi’s style of functioning.

Relying heavily on the rebel factor, the Congress was expecting the region to give it the decisive push to turn its fortunes around. Even the Koli community, in turmoil over the rape and murder of a young girl in Junagadh, appears to have stayed with the BJP.

Rebel leader Gordhan Zadaphia, the convener of the Sardar Patel Utkarsh Samiti which organised over 80 public meetings throughout Saurashtra against Modi, said: “We were not able to transfer Patel votes to the Congress. The Modi factor has worked.”

Surprise II

Like Saurashtra, the diamond city of Surat was a hotbed of rebellion. But the BJP captured all five seats. Dhiru Gajera, the most vocal rebel, lost.

Surprise III

The results prove the rebel factor was the most over-hyped phenomenon of this election.

The Congress’s decision to field turncoats as official candidates proved disastrous.

Amreli district Congress president Thakarsinh, who had vehemently opposed the entry of rebels, said the party leadership made a blunder by joining hands with them. The only rebel who managed to win is Bavku Undhad.

Surprise IV

The BJP made a dent in the Congress’s tribal base.

For the first time in Gujarat, the BJP snatched a traditional Congress seat in the tribal district of Dang.

Surprise V

A silver lining for the Congress was Ahmedabad, where the party wrested two seats from the BJP.

Not a mean achievement, considering the chief minister contested from the Maninagar constituency in Ahmedabad.

Surprise VI

Five out of the six Muslim candidates fielded by the Congress won but seven ministers of Team Modi bit the dust. The losers: revenue minister Kashik Patel, urban development minister I.K. Jadeja, agriculture minister Bhupendra Chudasama, public distribution minister Chhatrasinh Mori, tribal development minister Prabhatsinh Chauhan, junior agriculture minister Dilip Thakore and irrigation minister Ratilal Sureja.

SurpriseVII

The BJP lost Godhra. Sitting MLA Haresh Bhatt was dropped ostensibly because of controversial remarks attributed to him in the Tehelka sting. Bhatt’s rapport with VHP leader Praveen Togadia, whose dislike for Modi is well known, might also have prompted the chief minister to drop him. The BJP’s new candidate, Prabhat Chauhan, could not hold on to the seat that has become synonymous with the riots.

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