The Bharatiya Janata Party may have won Gujarat, but it lost to the Congress in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home district of Unjha – a significant win for a party that this time recorded its best results in the state in the past two decades.
The Congress’ Asha Patel fought against five-time MLA Narayan Patel and won by a margin of 19,529 votes in the constituency, under which Modi’s hometown, Vadnagar, falls.
What worked against the BJP? More than 40% of Unjha’s population belongs to the Patidar community which, under Hardik Patel’s movement, has been protesting against the BJP’s rule and demanding for reservations in jobs and education for more than two years now.
The Patidars used to form the backbone of the BJP’s vote base in the state. But years of inaction by the state government, combined with the deaths of Patidar youth from the area during the movement, has left the community disillusioned.
The BJP failed to cater to the Patidars’ demands, and the Congress managed to win their support over it.
A month before the elections, the Congress had met Patidar leaders and promised them the quotas they have been demanding.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi visited several Patidar areas during his poll campaign in the state. He also visited Unjha’s Umiya Mata temple, the seat of the reigning deity of the Kadva Patidars.
While the BJP promised the Patidars government grants and approved Rs 8.75 crore to develop tourist facilities at the Umiya Mataji Sansthan, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani avoided holding public meetings in the constituency, The Indian Express reported.
The Congress has won Hardik Patel’s hometown of Viramgam too. The Congress’ Bharwad Lakhabhai Bhikhabhai won against the BJP’s Tejshriben Dilipkumar Patel by 6,548 votes.