The result of the Jasdan byelection in Gujarat which announced today showed one thing – the voters remain loyal to Kunvarji Bavaliya, who has represented them for decades. Bavaliya won the Jasdan bypolls by over 19,000 votes. A five-time Congress MLA, Kunvarji Bavaliya this time was contesting under a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket. The byelection was held because on July 2, Bavaliya left the Congress and joined the BJP.
A day later, the ruling BJP rewarded him by making him a cabinet minister in the Vijay Rupani government with three portfolios — water supply, animal husbandry and rural housing. As per rules, a minister has to get elected to the assembly within six months.
Kunvarji Bavaliya had won the seat on Congress ticket in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2017.
The Jasdan assembly seat holds significance in Gujarat because ever since the state was formed in 1960, the BJP has never won this seat, except once. The only time it tasted victory in this seat was in 2009, that too after Bavaliya vacated the seat after he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Rajkot.
In this byelection, Baviliya was pitched against Congress’s Avsar Nakiya, a district-level leader who has once worked under Baviliya and was contesting assembly election for the first time.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has reportedly received a complaint of breach of model code of conduct against Bavaliya. The complaint was regarding an audio clip where Bavaliya was purportedly heard threatening some voters. The clip was circulated on WhatsApp.
WHY BJP WANTED HIM
Baviliya is a popular OBC leader and enjoys considerable clout in the numerically-strong Koli community in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. His entry in the BJP was a boost for the saffron party ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election. The BJP fared badly in Saurashtra in last year’s assembly polls as the Patidar community deserted it following the quota agitation led by Hardik Patel.
In the 2017 state elections, the Congress won 30 out of 54 seats in Saurashtra, 14 more than in 2012. The BJP’s tally fell from 35 in 2012 to 23.
The Koli community is present in large numbers in at least 20 assembly constituencies in Saurashtra, which sends four MPs to the Lok Sabha.
While quitting the Congress, Baviliya accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of playing casteist politics. He said he was not happy with the way Congress was functioning in the state. He had said that he decided to leave the Congress, the party he had represented for more than 20 years, because his supporters requested him to do so.
“The way Rahulji is playing casteist politics, I realised I will not be able to succeed in working in the Congress anymore. I was not getting a chance to work the way I wanted to in the Congress due to constant infighting. This government is moving ahead with a mission, and I will be able to succeed in fulfilling the expectations of people, rural populace, the poor and farmers,” he had said, according to a PTI report.
WHY JASDAN BYPOLL RESULT IS IMPORTANT
The result of the Jasdan byelection in Gujarat is important for the Congress and the BJP because it comes just after the assembly elections result in five states.
The BJP has been in power in Gujarat for more than 15 years and the Congress was successful in giving it a tough fight in the 2017 assembly elections. Besides this, elections in Gujarat also hold significance because it is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The byelection in Jasdan is also a battle for prestige for the two parties ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The polling for Jasdan assembly seat on December 20 saw a voter turnout of 71.27 per cent. There are 2.32 lakh registered voters in this assembly constituency.