Guj bypoll outcome makes ruling BJP, Rupani stronger in state

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Ahmedabad, Nov 11 (PTI) The BJP, which had managed to retain power in Gujarat with a slender majority in the 2017 Assembly polls, has now improved its position ahead of the 2022 state elections by winning all eight seats in the bypolls held last week.

The bypoll results announced on Tuesday has especially consolidated Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's standing in the saffron party as well in the state politics.

By bagging all eight seats, the BJP has increased its count further to 111 in the 182-member House, while the Congress's tally has come down to 65.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the saffron party's tally was 99, which was 16 less than 115 that it had won in the 2012 election. For the first time, the BJP's count had slipped below the 100-mark since it formed its maiden government on its own in 1995. The Congress had made handsome gains in the 2017 polls by winning 77 seats.

However, after that, the BJP had increased its numbers in the House by winning subsequent bypolls.

Speculations were rife in 2017 that the BJP might replace Rupani with some other leader. However, the party did not do so.

Eight Congress MLAs had resigned before the Rajya Sabha elections held in Gujarat earlier this year, and five of them, who were given tickets by the BJP, their new party, won on Tuesday.

Despite switching sides, voters of their constituencies reposed faith in these five leaders and sent them to the Assembly.

After the results, Rupani declared that the bypoll win was a 'trailer' for the 2022 state assembly elections.

He said that the party has received support from various communities like Patels, tribals, Kolis as the bypolls were held in the seats dominated by these communities.

After its stellar performance in 2017 Assembly polls on the back of Patidar quota stir, the opposition Congress was hopeful that the numerically-strong community will support it in the bypolls held on November 3.

However, the party failed to retain the two seats- Morbi and Dhari- where the Patidar community has a strong presence.

On the two tribal seats of Dang and Kaprada as well, the BJP won with a huge margin.

The Congress expressed disappointment over the outcome of the bypolls.

Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda said the party accepted the people's verdict though it was contrary to its expectation that they will teach a lesson to the BJP for indulging in horse-trading and using money power. PTI PD NP NP