Gujarat Polls: When both party chiefs were sent home
Ahmedabad, Dec 21: This could be the first election wherein presidents of both the national parties have lost elections. Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia was defeated by his BJP rival Babu Bokhiria by a margin of 17,146 votes in Porbandar constituency and BJP president RC Faldu lost by just 3,304 votes to Congress's Raghavji Patel from the Jamnagar Rural seat.
Modhwadia had won the seat in 2002 and 2007 but could not hold it in this election.
Even Modi's victory lost bit shine as five incumbent BJP ministers lost the electoral battle. Those defeated are three Cabinet ministers and two junior ministers: Agriculture Minister Dileep Sanghani went down to Congress' Paresh Dhanani by a margin of 29,893 votes from Amreli seat and his cabinet colleague Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas lost to Balvantsinh Rajput of Congress from Sidhpur assembly seat in Patan district by 25,824 votes.
The Sidhpur constituency had high-profile visitors like Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi as Vyas, also a spokesperson for the state government, was the face of Chief Minister Narendra Modi on electronic media. Rajput has extracted the revenge as he was defeated by Vyas in 2007 Assembly elections by a margin of 2,429 votes.
Another casualty was Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela. He was done in by Congress' Jethabhai Vaghela with a margin of 22,839 votes from Vadgam assembly constituency in Banaskantha district.
Minister of state for Forest and Environment Kiritsinh Rana put up a brave fight but ultimately lost to sitting Congress MP Soma Ganda by a margin of 1,561 votes from Limbdi assembly seat in Surendranagar district.
Minister of state for Agriculture Kanubhai Bhalala was trounced by Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) president Keshubhai Patel from Visavadar seat by a margin of 42,186 votes.
Among the BJP ministers who won by wafer-thin margins were minister of state for water supply Parbat Patel (3,473 votes) and minister of state for higher education Vasuben Trivedi (2,862 votes).
The smallest victory margin was recorded in Sojitra constituency, where Punambhai Parmar of Congress defeated BJP's candidate Vipulkumar Patel by 162 votes.
Another Congress candidate from Kalol, Baldevji Thakor, edged out BJP's Atul Patel by a mere 343 votes, while Dharshibhai Khanpura (Congress) won against BJP's Prabatsinh Vaghela by just 600 votes.
BJP's candidate from Anand, Dilip Patel, won just by 987 votes.
While the victory margins for Congress candidates for 21 seats were below 5,000 votes, BJP (12 seats), GPP (1) and NCP (1) also had their own shares of close encounters.
Congress retains hold
The Congress tightened its hold over parts of state in 2012 in Kshatriya-dominated Kheda and Anand constituencies and tribal Panchmahals districts but suffered losses in its bastion Dahod. The party wrested three seats from the BJP in the region while conceding two to the saffron party.
Congress stalwart Shankersinh Vaghela and BJP leader Jetha Bharvad were among prominent winners from the region.
Of the 27 seats in the four district, 17 went to the Congress while the BJP bagged the remaining 10. In the 2007 elections, the Congress-NCP alliance had won 18 out of 30 seats while 12 were with the BJP.