Ahmedabad, Dec 21: Why did Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi exchange sweets with his onetime mentor and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) president Keshubhai Patel and sought his blessings before addressing his victory rally in Ahmedabad? The answer lies in the numbers that are revealed by a close look at the election results.
Modi drove to the Gandhinagar residence of Patel, who fell out with the chief minister and floated his own party ahead of the election. "Modiji had come to seek blessings after his win in the elections. I congratulated him for the win," Patel said after Modi's visit.
The former chief minister and BJP rebel floated GPP four months ahead of the elections and led a vitriolic campaign against Modi, who had succeeded him in 2001. The GPP had fielded candidates in more than 170 Assembly seats but managed to open its account with two seats.
These two could have been added to Modi's tally to take it to the numbers he had in 2007 (117). However, there are strategic reasons for Modi's gesture and Keshubhai's blessings.
One immediate concern is to placate any discordant notes in party base in Gujarat if Modi is looking for bigger role in the BJP and national platform. A leader should be acceptable to all or seem to be okay with the majority. And Keshubhai is from powerful Patel community with votes and notes.
This vote bank has done damage to Modi and the GPP has wounded him in more than 10 constituencies. Even though Keshubhai has rubbed him wrongly and robbed him of couple of sure seats that could have taken the tally close to 125 seats, Modi seems to have swallowed the pride for future gains.
In all, fourteen seats seem to have been slipped out of BJP's hand due to votes split by the GPP candidates. They are Talala, Rajkot East, Sankheda, Sojitra, Lunawada, Manavadar, Mehmedabad, Lathi, Limbdi, Kalol, Kankrej, Chhota Udaipur, Wanker and Abdasa. These spread over the state but the damage is damage.
Of these seats, the Congress has retained Lunawada, Manavadar and Kankrej but if one takes into account the votes got by GPP, these could have been pocket by the undivided BJP. In Kankrej, the BJP lost by around 600 votes while the GPP candidate managed to pull 7,371 votes. In Manavadar, the BJP lost by nearly 4,000 votes while the GPP got 10,985 votes and in Lunawada, the margin of BJP loss to Congress was around 3000 votes while the GPP candidate managed to get 4,429 votes.
The loss for BJP in Talala where GPP snatched 10,599 votes could be too much to forget as the BJP lost the seat to the Congress by just 1,478 votes, just about 10 percent of GPP votes.
In Lathi constituency, the GPP vote share was 13,004 and the margin of loss for the BJP was less than 200 votes. Theoretically, here too the GPP robbed the BJP of a seat.
In Wanker, the Congress defeated BJP by a margin of less than 6,000 votes while the GPP candidate got 30,319 votes and in Abdasa, the GPP managed to have 19,631 votes while the BJP lost by less than 7,000 votes.
During the campaigning, Keshubhai, who won from Visavadar Assembly seat in Saurashtra region, had vowed to unseat Modi and compared the chief minister to Hitler and called him a "demon".
But Modi seems to have forgiven his one time mentor for the sake of larger picture as he himself sought forgiveness during his victory speech in Ahmedabad on Thursday evening. Modi needs Patels and all the votes for a development agenda.