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The Gujarat Vote Share Trend Conundrum

The Bharatiya Janata Party may seem invincible in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat. However, the staggering numbers in terms of the party's vote share and seats in the state assembly tell a very different tale. Right from the first time it came to power on its own in 1995, till now, this article chronicles the BJP's eventful journey in Gujarat.

It was around October 2000 when Haren Pandya, a cabinet minister in the Keshubhai Patel government in Gujarat, told this writer in an interview that it was not so much the stunning debacle of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just-concluded elections to local self-government bodies that shocked him and his party. What surprised them more was that they just did not know this was coming. With the Congress pocketing 21 out of 23 district panchayats for which elections were held in September 2000, leaving two to the BJP, it was a complete reversal of the status pre-1995. Winning 2,298 taluka panchayat seats against the BJP’s 1,276 in 210 talukas of 24 districts, the Congress had more taluka panchayat seats than the BJP did in 22 districts. Here, too, there was a role reversal.

Even in the BJP’s traditional urban fiefdom, the party lost control of two prestigious municipal corporations of Ahmedabad and Rajkot after ruling for 13 years and 24 years, respectively, though it won 227 seats, and the Congress, 193, in all the six municipal corporations. Some detailed number crunching revealed more eye-opening facts for the ruling party, for instance, the BJP, which controlled the Surat Municipal Corporation with 98 out of 99 seats—the 99th seat having been won by a BJP rebel—was reduced to 54 seats in 2000 though it returned to power.

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