Though its claim of a big win in the Gujarat elections fell flat, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did manage to impress a section of voters in PM Narendra Modi’s home state – bagging five seats and securing a vote share of 13 per cent.
Several AAP leaders like its chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi and state unit president Gopal Italia had to face a crushing defeat in the election results announced on Thursday. While Gadhvi lost by more than 18,700 votes in Khabhalia, Italia was defeated by his BJP rival by over 64,600 votes in Katargam.
Nonetheless, Arvind Kejriwal’s party snatched two seats from the BJP and the Congress each, and one from Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) in its second attempt in Gujarat.
AAP emerged victorious in Botad, Dediapada, Gariadhar, Jamjodhpur and Visavadar Assembly segments, becoming the third largest party after the BJP and the Congress in the state.
This victory has not only helped the AAP become a national party but will also establish it as a serious political force in Gujarat, party leaders said.
In South Gujarat, AAP candidate Chaitarbhai Damjibhai Vasava defeated BJP’s Hiteshkumar Damjibhai in the Dediapada segment that falls under Bharuch district. The assembly seat was held by BTP co-founder Vasava Maheshbhai Chhotubhai, who did not seek re-election this year.
In the Botad segment of Saurashtra, AAP’s Makwana Umeshbhai Naranbhai emerged victorious over BJP nominee Ghanshyambhai with a margin of 2279 votes. The semi-urban constituency, which comprises of 63 per cent of rural voters, was won by BJP leader Saurabh Patel with a margin of just 908 votes in 2017. In New Delhi, AAP leaders said rural votes helped the party win this seat.
In the BJP stronghold of Bhavnagar, AAP’s Sudhirbhai Vaghani won the Gariadhar Assembly constituency by defeating BJP rival Nakrani Keshubhai by 4819 votes. AAP leaders said that the BJP leader’s poor performance helped Vaghani win the seat.
In the Jamjodhpur seat of Jamnagar district, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Ahir Hemantbhai Hardasbhai defeated BJP’s Chimanbhai Sipariya by 10,403 votes. In the last election, Sipariya lost this seat to Chirag Kalariya of Congress by just 2518 votes.
In Junagarh’s Visavadar segment, once represented by former chief minister Keshbhai Patel, AAP’s Bhupendrbhai Gandhubhai Bhayani defeated his BJP rival Harshadkumar Madhav by 7063 votes. The seat was held by Congress’ Ribadiya Harshadkumar Madhavajibhai. Keshubhai won this constituency in 2012.
In New Delhi, AAP leaders list clean and ‘aam aadmi’ image of candidates, voter fatigue, and its electoral promises among the key factors behind these victories.
However, they admit that the party’s strategy of consolidating the votes of the powerful Patidar community, which constitutes 12 per cent of Gujarat’s population, did not work in its favour.