11 seats where BJP won with wafer thin margins in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was successful in invoking Gujarati pride during the latter half of the campaign for assembly elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was successful in invoking Gujarati pride during the latter half of the campaign for assembly elections

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi toe to toe in the Gujarat elections boasted that the polls had delivered a "zabardast jhatka (terrific shock)" to the BJP and exposed Modi's credibility crisis. Not only the saffron party saw a marginal rise in the vote share percentage as compared to 2012 elections but also it settled at just 99 seats, a certain downfall in number of seats fetched in past several years in the state.

The Gujarat elections were held in two phases on December 9 and 14 and the average voter turnout was 68 per cent, slightly lower than 2012's 71 per cent.

Senior party leader Nitin Patel and Vajubhai Vala, the incumbent governor of Karnataka and former Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, are also among the frontrunners for the top job, according to sources. However, BJP lost to Patel bashing in constituencies as Unjha and Viramgam.

While Vaghela did not field a candidate from his Jan Vikalp-All India Hindustan Congress, he had announced support for Bimal Shah, an Independent who had served as a former Gujarat Transport minister.

Unlike the BJP, the Congress central leaders played the supporting cast and left the chief minister on his own.

As the election results showed the BJP achieving a nail biting finish, Mr Shah claimed that its politics of performance won over Opposition's dynastic politics, casteism and appeasement politics. Virbhadra Singh was also in a leadership clash with the state Congress chief Sukhwindar Singh Sukku. But BJP suffered a massive jolt in Gujarat.

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However, while the mood was jubilant in the BJP camp, there were many who believed that BJP's win by a narrow margin is a warning for the party as a swing of 10 seats would have made the contest a cliffhanger.

And once again, the Congress strategy of casteisation was of little help.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said that 47-year-old Rahul Gandhi had taken over the reins of the party at a crucial stage. In all, from September onwards, Rahul visited 27 Hindu temples across Gujarat, apparently to re-establish the party's Hindu credentials for the first time since the 1980s, when his father, then PM Rajiv Gandhi, got opened the locks of the Ayodhya shrine.

"Gujarat has given me a lot of love". I had specifically pointed out in my article that Rahul Gandhi's attacks directed at Narendra Modi will cost his party dearly. Had the voter turnout this time been more than 72 per cent, the Congress could have easily won in Gujarat.

While Vijay Rupani's selection as Gujarat Cheif Minister once again is nearly certain after he won his seat by a margin of 25,000 votes against his Congress rival Indranil Rajguru, the name to lead Himachal Pradesh is still under wraps. The new Congress President needs to sort out his house on priority and find ways and means to keep his party in contention as a national party of substance. In Bapunagar, Congress's Himmatsinh Patel won by 3,067 votes against BJP's Jagrupsinh Rajput.

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