BJP’s Hattrick Sweep In Gujarat Blocked As Congress Breaks The Spell With Lone Seat Victory

The overall results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections were a sobering reality for the BJP, despite a victory, but in Modi and Amit Shah’s home turf, for now, the saffron wave continues to hold the fort.

Actor-turned-politician Geniben Thakor won Banaskantha seat in Gujarat

As Narendra Modi prepares a comeback for a third term at the Centre, the only other  Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to achieve this feat, his home state of Gujarat has delivered yet another unsurprising result with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 25 out of 26 Lok Sabha seats. 

The saffron juggernaut was, however, blocked from achieving a hattrick victory in all 26 seats in Gujarat as Congress managed to wrest one seat – Banaskantha – from the BJP in a neck-and-neck fight. Actor-turned-politician Geniben Thakor, who crowd-funded her campaign after the Congress alleged it had run out of funds, defeated BJP candidate Dr Rekhaben Hiteshbhai Chaudhari by a margin of 30,406 votes. 

Initially, when the counting began, the Congress was leading in four seats, but ultimately, Thakor emerged as the sole winner from her party. Her win, nevertheless, overturned the decade-old jinx for the grand old party in the western state.

At the same time, BJP heavyweights like Amit Shah from Gandhinagar, Hasmukhbhai Patel from Ahmedabad East and Mansukhbhai Vasava from Bharuch remained undefeated.

A look at the vote shares 

While the BJP retained its power in Gujarat for yet another Lok Sabha term, its vote share has fallen to 61.86 per cent this year from 63.11 per cent in the 2019 elections, as per the Election Commission data. Although the difference is not much, it is a shock to the saffron party which had aimed to win bigger.

“The general expectation was that Congress will do better this time than previous elections. Although they won only one seat, they still have some reason to cheer because the vote margin in many seats has come down compared to 2019. The BJP was expecting to win all 26 seats with a margin of over 5 lakh votes but that has not happened,” says Darshan Desai, senior journalist and professor-in-practice of journalism at Navrachna University, Vadodara.

“The clout of modi is receding. Though not completely in its waning phase, the results have certainly shown that it has reduced,” he adds. 

The combined vote shares of the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the two INDIA bloc partners which contested in 25 constituencies, stood at 33.93 per cent. Of this, Congress' vote share was 31.24 per cent, slightly down from 32.55 per cent in 2019 elections. Meanwhile for AAP, it was 2.69 per cent. 

The Aam Aadmi Party which was hopeful of opening its books in the parliamentary elections in Gujarat could not win the Bharuch and Bhavnagar seats where it fielded its candidates as part of the INDIA bloc. 

Meanwhile, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which contested all 26 seats, garnered a marginal vote share of 0.76 per cent, lower than the vote share that went to NOTA (None of the Above), which was 1.56 per cent.

Bypoll results

Apart from Lok Sabha elections, five seats — Porbandar, Manavada, Waghodia, Khambhat and Vijapur — also went to Assembly bypolls in Gujarat after the sitting MLAs joined BJP ahead of the polls. Arjun Devabhai Modhawadi, Arvind Ladani, Chiragkumar Arvindbhai Patel and CJ Chavda jumped ship from Congress while Dharmendrasinh Vaghela resigned as an Independent candidate to join BJP. All five of them have won. 

With these seats, BJP’s strength in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly has gone up to 161. Congress’ tally in the Assembly also went down as Vav’s sitting MLA Geniben Thakor won her Lok Sabha seat. 

Kshatriya protest couldn’t dampen BJP’s reign in Saurashtra

Ahead of polling, the Kshatriya community in Gujarat was up in arms over Rajkot candidate Puroshottam Rupala’s remark about them. When Outlook spoke to people on the ground, several people from the community had expressed their anger with Rupala. They had said that his nomination was the only reason they would boycott BJP in the elections. However, in the end, the results have shown that the voters remained loyal to the party. 

Rupala won from Rajkot seat with a comfortable margin of 4.84 lakh votes. This is the highest winning margin in the constituency. Other key seats including Porbandar, Bharuch and Bhavnagar also gave a clear mandate to the BJP.

The overall results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections were a sobering reality for the BJP, despite a victory, but in Modi and Amit Shah’s home turf, for now, the saffron wave continues to hold the fort.

Congress’ sole win is, however, a dent for the BJP. Prof Desai says, there has been a clear urban-rural divide in Gujarat, with the urban areas more in awe of Modi, as a result of which the “Hindu hriday samrat” has been internalised. “Although the Hindutva sentiment is there in the rural areas too, gradually real issues are taking the centre stage,” he says.