More power to BJP in Gujarat? Independent MLA declares support to CM Rupani’s govt

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Gandhinagar, Dec 23: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Gujarat Assembly elections, the results of which were declared on Monday, for the sixth consecutive time, the opposition Congress has declared that the poll results were a "moral victory" for the grand old party.

The BJP won 99 seats and the Congress bagged 77 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly. This time, the BJP got lowest number of seats in the state Assembly in the last 22 years, and thus the victory is not one of the party's best performances.

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After the results were out, the critics of BJP stated that the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state Gujarat has eroded because of which it got just seven seats more than the magic number 92 to form the government in the state by any party or an alliance.

Amid all these war of words over the election results, the saffron party got a boost on Friday after an independent member of legislative assembly (MLA) in Gujarat has declared his support to the BJP.

Lunawada MLA Ratansinh Rathod wrote to Gujarat Governor OP Kohli declaring his support to the BJP and also came to the BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar to participate in the meeting of its newly-elected MLAs to elect their leader.

"I have declared unconditional support to the BJP," Rathod told reporters. "I have given outside support and as of now I have not joined the BJP," he said in reply to a question.

In his letter to the governor, Rathod has said he extends his unconditional support to the BJP government. Rathod was a Congress member of Mahisagar district panchyat.

"I had asked for ticket from the Congress party, but they did not give it so I had to contest as an independent candidate," Rathod said.

Rathod is one of the two independent MLAs who have won in the recently concluded assembly polls.

On Friday, incumbent chief minister Vijay Rupani was elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party in Gujarat. Rupani will be the state's CM for a second term, Union minister Arun Jaitley said.

Deputy CM Nitin Patel will continue to be the second in command, after he was declared the deputy leader of the legislature party by Jaitley, the central observer appointed by the BJP leadership for the election.

In the recently concluded Gujarat elections, the Congress performed its best in many years. However, it could not unseat the BJP in the home turf of PM Modi.

Before the polls, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi relentlessly campaigned in the state. The party has given Rahul the credit for performing "so well" in the elections in a state considered to be the BJP's citadel.

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