It comes as no surprise that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won all the eight seats in the byelections to the Assembly held on November 3. The ruling party won the Abdasa, Dang, Karjan, Limbdi, Kaprada, Morbi, Dhari and Gadhada constituencies by significant margins. At one time it seemed the Morbi seat would go to the Congress, but the BJP won it in a tightly contested race.
Observers say the results were expected after eight Congress Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in June this year. Five of the defectors joined the BJP. Three of them contested the byelections. Said Ashok Shrimali of the Centre for Social Knowledge and Action, Ahmedabad: “Caste and local-level politics are main factors for voters. The party is secondary, so even if the candidate was once with the Congress and now wins with the BJP it has more to do with him than the party. The Patels, for instance, will only vote their community and sub-caste.”
Pradhyumnasinh Jadeja (Abdasa), Jitubhai Chaudhari (Kaprada) and J.V Kakadiya (Dhari) are former Congress MLAs who won on the BJP ticket. All three were comfortably ahead of their rivals throughout the counting. Jadeja got 49 per cent of the votes, Chaudhari 59 per cent and Kakadiya 49 per cent. The other winners are Vijaybhai Patel (Dang), Akshaykumar Patel (Karjan), Atmaram Parmar (Gadhada), Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi) and Brijesh Merja (Morbi).
Not only did the BJP win the eight seats but it garnered 55.02 per cent vote share, as per data from the State Election Commission. The Congress secured 34.37 per cent. A 60.75 per cent voter turnout was recorded. As many as 81 candidates contested the elections across the eight constituencies.
In June this year, the Congress, which had won an impressive 77 of 182 seats in the 2017 State elections, was jolted by the defection of eight MLAs. At over 70 seats, the Congress was well placed to get two Rajya Sabha seats, however, with the reduced number it would be able to get just a single seat. Typical of these situations, Congress MLAs were kept locked in a resort in Rajasthan so that political rivals would not entice opportunists from fleeing.