Published On : Mon, Dec 18th, 2017

BJP wins Gujarat but defeated in PM Modi hometown seat Unjha

Ahmedabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might have got sixth consecutive term in Gujarat, but it actually failed to win what is symbolically described as most crucial seat in the state. Congress candidate Asha Patel defeated the saffron party’s Narayanbhai Lalludas Patel alias Kaka from Unjha constituency – which encompasses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar – by a margin of 19,124 votes.

Sitting BJP MLA Narayan Patel had defeated Asha by nearly 25,000 votes in 2012. The Congress, which is leading in 80 seats against against the BJP’s 99 seats at the time of publication, gave a tough fight to its arch rival riding strong on the Patidar wave. At least 40 percent of the population in Unjha is from the Patidar community and anger against the BJP was visible.

The 14 youth who were gunned down by the police two years ago during the Patidar reservation movement were from Unjha. Sensing the people’s anger against it, the BJP had not fielded even a single candidate on its symbol in the 2015 civic polls in this part of the state. Not only this, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani avoided holding public meetings in Unjha during the campaign trail after videos of Patidar youth disrupting the party’s Gaurav Yatra events went viral.

Though the ruling party attempted to win back the confidence of the Patidars – once considered to be a backbone of the saffron brigade – by giving government grants, but it failed. The Chief Minister Vijay Rupani government had approved a grant of Rs 8.75 crore to Unjha-based Umiya Mataji Sansthan to develop tourist facilities. It was part of the BJP’s populist spree ahead of the election in the state. Unjha is the religious seat of Goddess Umiya, the reigning deity of Kadva Patidars in Gujarat.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had also campaigned extensively in these parts as part of his ‘Navsarjan Yatra’. He spoke of PM Modi, completely avoiding all other election issues, and making the campaign all about him. He had even visited the Umiya Mata temple, which is a few kilometres from Modi’s birthplace of Vadnagar, and performed ‘aarti’.

With an attempt to woo the Kadva Patidars in the constituency in October this year, PM Modi inaugurated the Umiya Dham Ashram in Haridwar via videoconferencing. Welcoming the people with “Jai Umiya Maa!” he said he was a volunteer in 1975-76 when the festival of Maa Umiya was organised.

Despite its best efforts, it appears that the BJP failed to regain faith of the community, which in a way took revenge of the killing of its youth. The BJP has won the state but lost their traditional vote bank.