Guj polls 2007: Congress' Saurashtra strategy falls flat

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{image-modi+sonia_23122007.jpg www.oneindia.com}Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Dec 23: The Congress party's much expectation from the BJP rebels in the Saurashtra region proved disastrous for the party as it helped the BJP, under the leadership of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, beat the anti-incumbency.

Of the 58 seats in this region, the Congress won only 15 seats, while the BJP won 43, bettering its 2002 performance by few more seats, in spite of Patel rebellion in the saffron party spearheaded by former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel. The Congress here gave a bulk of the party tickets to the BJP rebels, who numbered above 40 and were denied to contest on BJP tickets by Narendra Modi.

Senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily admitted to doing a mistake by fielding BJP rebels in the Saurashtra region. "It was a mistake," he said, adding that the strategy applied in the Saurashtra region proved counterproductive for the party.

The only consolation for the Congress was its performance in the central Gujarat region, which was worst hit during the 2002 riots. Of the 43 seats in the region, the Congress emerged victorious in 24 seats, snatching over 15 seats from the BJP. The BJP managed to win in 18 seats, down by almost an equal number.

However, the Congress party's performance in this region that at a point of the counting process gave an impression of a neck-to-neck fight did not percolate in the adjoining north and south Gujarat.

The BJP's bastion, north Gujarat, remained committed to Narendra Modi, and his supporters even furthered his strength here by adding few more seats in the saffron party's favour as compared to its 2002 tally. Of the total 52 seats in the region, the BJP bagged 38 seats, while the Congress got only one-third of it (13 seats).

However, this was not shocking for the Congress, as it had pinned very less hope from this region.

In the South too, the Congress did not perform as expected by the party. The BJP got 19 of the 29 seats, while the Congress got nine seats and the remaining one seat went to others.

Few Congress leaders admitted that the failure to translate rural discontentment against Modi intop Congress votes also added to the party's poor performance. The party is now grappling to find an answer to Narendra Modi's phenomenal victory that defied all predictions by pollsters.

The Congress conceded defeat in the State elections and its official spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, even congratulated Modi. Terming Modi's victory as a "great victory", Singhvi said, "I do not grudge over his victory."

However, he also added the victory does not remove the "blot" or invalidate what all had happened under Modi's Government in the post-Godhra riots. The Congress party feels that Modi's victory will have no impact on national politics, but at the same time it has urged all the 'secular forces' in the country to unite.

The party says that there was nothing wrong in the 'merchants of death' remark by Congress President Sonia Gandhi since the Congress has always objected to Modi's divisive politics.

ANI>

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