AHMEDABAD: In a clean sweep, the ruling BJP on Tuesday won all the eight assembly seats in Gujarat where by-elections were held, dealing a blow to the opposition Congress which had bagged these constituencies in 2017.
The BJP's tally in the 182-member Assembly has now reached 111.
Voting for the eight seats was held on November 3 and counting of ballots was taken up on Tuesday.
The Congress, disappointed by the results, said they had expected voters will teach a lesson to party MLAs who resigned and switched sides.
Eight Congress MLAs had resigned before the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, and five of them, who were given tickets by the BJP, their new party, won on Tuesday.
Despite switching sides, voters of their constituencies reposed faith in these five leaders and sent them to the Assembly.
They are Pradhyumansinh Jadeja (who won from Abdasa seat), Brjesh Merja (Morbi), Akshay Patel (Karjan), Jitu Chaudhari (Kaprada) and J V Kakadiya (Dhari).
In Abdasa in Kutch district, a seat having a sizable number of Muslim voters, BJP's Jadeja defeated his closest rival, Shantilal Senghani of the Congress, by a margin of 36,778 votes, said the Election Commission on Tuesday evening.
While Jadeja, who won this seat on a Congress ticket in 2017, secured 71,848 votes, Senghani bagged only 35,070.
Independent candidate Hanif Padyar put up a good fight and polled 26,463 votes.
In a closely-contested bypoll on the Morbi seat in Morbi district, BJP's Merja defeated Congress candidate Jayantilal Patel by a margin of 4,649.
While Merja received 64,711 votes, Patel got 60,062.
In the 2017 assembly polls, Merja, as the Congress candidate, had defeated five-time BJP MLA Kantilal Amrutiya.
On the Karjan seat in Vadodara district, BJP's Akshay Patel won by a margin of 16,425 votes.
While Akshay Patel garnered 76,958 votes, Congress candidate Kiritisinh Jadeja got 60,533.
On the Limbdi seat in Surendranagar district, former minister Kiritsinh Rana of the BJP, who lost in 2017, won with a comfortable margin of 32,050 votes.
He defeated Congress' Chetan Khachar.
On the Dhari seat in Amreli district, BJP's JV Kakadiya defeated Congress' Suresh Kotadiya with over 17,209 votes.
On the Scheduled Tribe-reserved Dangs seat, BJP candidate Vijay Patel was declared winner by the EC.
Vijay Patel defeated Congress' Suryakant Gavit with a huge margin of 60,095 votes, the highest amongst all bypolls seats.
On the Kaprada (ST) seat in Valsad district, BJP's Chaudhari defeated Babu Patel of the Congress.
Chaudhari's winning margin was 47,066 votes.
On the Gadhada (SC) seat in Botad district, BJP's Dalit leader and former minister Atmaram Parmar, who had lost in the last election, defeated Mohan Solanki of the Congress with a comfortable margin of over 22,595 votes.
Jubilant over the BJP victory, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani termed the results as a "trailer" for the upcoming local bodies elections as well as the 2022 Assembly elections in Gujarat and said the voters rejected the Congress's negative campaign.
"Today the BJP is victorious across the country, whether is is Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh or Gujarat.
"Everywhere it is the result of work done by the central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and people's support and trust in the BJP," Rupani said in his first reaction after the trends showed the BJP was heading towards victory in all the seats.
Thanking the voters for coming out in large numbers to support the BJP despite the coronavirus pandemic, Rupani said the seats, where by-elections were held, were spread across Gujarat and had areas dominated by Muslims, Adivasis, Kolis and Patidars and members of other castes.
"In all these areas, the BJP has received a huge lead.
The BJP got many times more votes compared to the Congress.
"As I said earlier, these by-elections will prove to be the last nail in the Congress's coffin," Rupani said.
Gujarat Congress President Amit Chavda conceded party's defeat.
He said the party accepted the people's verdict though it was contrary to its expectation that they will teach a lesson to the BJP for indulging in horse-trading and using money power.
In the past, the BJP has repeatedly rejected Congress allegations of horse-trading and using money power to achieve political ends.
"Voters are supreme in a democracy.
We accept their verdict.
But it was contrary to our expectation that people will teach a lesson to the BJP for indulging in horse-trading using money and muscle power.
"Primary reason for our defeat is the BJP's policy of 'sham, dam, dand, bhed' (manipulation, use of money, harassment, blackmail), its misuse of power and administration, money, its hunger for power without care for any democratic values," said Chavda at a press conference.
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