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South Gujarat, Saurashtra offer consolation to Congress

Source: PTI
December 15, 2002 23:06 IST
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South Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch region offered some consolation to the Congress party in Gujarat, where it was swept off its feet by a saffron surge in the assembly election.

A quick look at the election results showed that the Congress could stop the BJP juggernaut to some extent in South Gujarat, where the main opposition party won 11 seats and the saffron outfit played second fiddle with nine.

The region comprises tribal dominated district of Dangs as also Surat, Navsari and Valsad. In the last polls, BJP won in 14 seats and Congress seven.

In Saurashtra and Kutch, which remained virtually unaffected by the post-Godhra violence, Congress made some inroads apparently cashing in on the anti-incumbency factor and the handling of the situation following the devastating earthquake in the Kutch region.

While the BJP had won last time 52 of the 58 seats in the region, home turf of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, this time it had to remain content with 38 seats.

The Congress raised its tally from six to 19, while one seat went to an independent.

While Kutch region saw the humbling of senior minister Suresh Mehta and Assembly Speaker Dhirubhai Shah, in Saurashtra, Agriculture Minister Purushottam Rupala was defeated.

In North Gujarat, from where Chief Minister Narendra Modi and GPCC chief Shankersinh Vaghela hail, the BJP has maintained its dominance.

Mahendrasinh Vaghela, son of Shankersinh Vaghela, also lost in Sami, which falls in the region.

It was Central Gujarat, the worst-hit in the post-Godhra violence, which saw waterloo of the Congress.

Godhra, which forms part of Panchmahals district, Dahod as also Ahmedabad, Baroda, Kheda and Anand fall in this region.

The Hindutva campaign helped the BJP reduce the Congress challenge to pulp as the saffron party swept Panchmahals and Dahod districts, winning all the seats including the hotly contested Godhra.

Similar was the scene in Baroda district, having 13 seats, where the Congress had won eight seats last time.

BJP made a mincemeat of the main opposition party in the communally sensitive Naroda, Maninagar, Daryapur-Kazipur, Shahpur, Seharkotda, Sarkhej and Asarwa areas of Ahmedabad district, which wore the brunt of the violence. It won 16 out of 18 constituencies, wresting three seats from Congress.

While BJP won as many as 42 seats so far, Congress has to remain content with less than 10 seats in the region where the full picture was yet to emerge.

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