Congress reduced to 17 seats, AAP expands its presence
GN Bureau | December 8, 2022
The BJP has been in power in Gujarat since 1998, and the state proved to be its springboard for the national sweep in 2014. Yet, it never came even close to the highest tally of 149 seats (out of the total 182) that the Congress had recorded in 1985. This time it has finally broken past the 150-mark, aided by an unusual and surprising Modi wave. This has reduced the Congress to a measly 17 seats (at the time of writing). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has won only five seats, but given the context, it looks like an achievement. This will help it get the ‘national party’ tag too.
After the voting on December 1 and 5, in the counting Thursday, the BJP had won 147 seats and was leading on 9 by 7 p.m. Its vote share too finally crossed the half-way mark, at 52.5%. The Congress and AAP secured 27.3% and 12.9%, respectively, which is a new low for the former and a significant number for the latter.
After the low of only 99 seats in the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP took no chances and made all possible efforts to ensure a convincing victory this time. It changed the chief minister and the entire cabinet last year and deployed fresh candidates in order to overcome any anti-incumbency. Prime minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah not only campaigned extensively from early on but also micro-managed the entire electioneering.
When the voting remained on the lower side – down to 64.33% after 68% in 2017 and 71% in 2012, analysts declared the elections were without any wave and there appeared no overriding issues to enthuse voters. The result, however, was beyond the party’s own claims and exit polls projections.
During campaign, many issues did crop up – from inflation and unemployment to alleged loopholes in governance, most recently exemplified by the Morbi bridge collapse tragedy. The overwhelming support for the BJP in general and for the PM in particular, is interpreted as the voters’ support for Modi’s work at the national level.
The party has indicated Bhupendra Patel will continue as the chief minister, and the new cabinet will take the oath of office on December 12.
For the Congress, it was a forgettable election. Its top leaders largely avoided campaigning in the state. The AAP, which first contested assembly elections in the state in 2017, was a looming factor. The vote share figures possibly indicate how much damage Kejriwal’s party has done to the grand old party.
The two, however, had their share of good news elsewhere. In the fiercely contested Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections, the AAP finally unseated the BJP on Wednesday, strengthening its grip on the capital. The Congress managed to unseat the BJP from the crucial state of Himachal Pradesh in Thursday’s results.
As 2022 ends, the BJP has delivered an exceptional performance in two critical states – Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. The coming year will see assembly contests in notable states, setting the stage for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
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